BMX legacy bonus for Pietermaritzburg

7 April 2011

Following in the footsteps of the 2010 Fifa World Cup, BMX racers will enjoy a massive long-term benefit from this weekend’s UCI BMX Supercross at Alexandra Park in Pietermaritzburg. The city has confirmed that the track will remain in place after the event as a permanent legacy project.

Msunduzi municipality Mayor Mike Tarr confirmed that the prime site next to the Pietermaritzburg Cricket Oval and the existing cycling velodrome would be a permanent home for BMX racing in the area.

“The course for this Supercross will be reshaped after the event for national and provincial championships, as well as the development of the sport in the city. This is in line with what we saw in 2010, when Harry Gwala and Wadley stadiums were left as legacies of the Fifa Soccer World Cup,” Tarr said.

‘A sporting city’

“Most importantly, it is the legacy that will be left behind that alludes to the City of Choice being a sporting city,” Tarr said. “Likewise, the UCI Supercross will have a similar kind of an impact.”

The bold move by the city has been warmly welcomed in cycling circles, where the sport of BMX racing has been seriously hampered by a lack of permanent facilities.

One of the leading figures in the cycling community to welcome the decision was Jeff Minnaar, the father of mountain bike star Greg Minnaar and one of the original founders of BMX racing in the province.

‘Great’

“For years we’ve been trying to have a BMX facility opened at Alexandra Park, as BMX is so conducive to introducing youngsters to cycling of all kinds, and so to now have a facility which everyone can go to and which is central for most really is great,” said Minnaar.

“Previously the interest these international events have generated hasn’t been harnessed as well as it should have, but now with the track remaining behind afterwards there is no reason why that interest in the sport can’t continue for a long time after the event.”

Pietermaritzburg local Sharlene McGilvray, who is the reigning world champion in the Women’s Masters Cruiser class, feels the permanent facility is just what the sport needs to convert the resurgence of interest in BMX racing into world class medal contenders.

‘Incredible’

“We’ve needed another track in Pietermaritzburg for such a long time because the more tracks we have then the more kids we are able to give the opportunity to ride and develop, and so to finally have this one is incredible,” McGilvray said.

“With this facility being so visible, I’m pretty sure it will naturally become such a community orientated track, which everyone will be able to benefit from, which is great for the development of the sport of BMX.”

The novice and intermediate riders aren’t the only ones excited by the decision. The coach of Cycling South Africa’s BMX High Performance programme Jonnathan Chislett is hopeful clever management will enable even the top riders in the country to benefit from the facility.

“If we can adapt the track after the Supercross in such a way that enables the younger intermediate riders to still get the most out of the track, whilst still keeping it advanced enough for our top riders to be able to come here for training camps or on their own, then I really think we’ll see BMX grow even faster than it is at the moment,” reckoned Chislett.

SAinfo reporter

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