With the odds stacked against them, Willie Smit’s RoadCover team will be aiming to make life as difficult as possible for their rivals in the 103km road race at the Bestmed Cycle4Cansa Championship at Sun City on Sunday.
On a route that will make the mouths of the top sprinters in the country water, the fast men will be gearing up for a tilt at the title held by BCX’s Nolan Hoffman.
African continental road champion Smit has had a number of successes this year, including overall victory at this month’s Lowveld Tour, but said he was not at his peak power after losing “a bit of weight”.
“We will definitely be behind Clint Hendricks for this one,” he said of his teammate who won Tour Durban this year.
“We know that BCX will be behind Nolan Hoffman and the generally flat and fast route is one which suits them more than it does us.
“But I believe it will be a good fight. You never give up in a race of this nature and I am sure it will be a hard battle until the end.”
Smit said they were familiar with the route and ready to throw down the gauntlet to the other contenders.
“It is no secret that our team’s strong point is to ride an aggressive race, which is something that will suit Clint.”
Hendricks showed his speed when he won the final stage of the Lowveld Tour in a gallop to the line ahead of BCX’s Reynard Butler and Hoffman.
“BCX might by more conservative, but we will try to make it more difficult for them,” said Smit, who is fresh from winning three races in Europe.
He added that the route could get a bit tricky halfway through if the wind came up.
“That can make for some exciting racing and then it is all about who has the most teammates with them and the strongest legs.”
He added that Hoffman’s speed made him a dangerous rival, while he felt Butler was also looking good after the Lowveld Tour.
“I can’t see anyone else being faster than them.”
The two-day cycling festival on Saturday and Sunday will attract thousands of competitors to the Pilanesberg resort to celebrate the 20th anniversary of one of the country’s longest-running events.
In that time the race has raised more than R3.6-million for the Cancer Association of South Africa and Smit was glad to offer his support to that aspect.
“There is always a sense of responsibility to support these events,” he said. “We do have a long season in South Africa and entering races is dependent on the team’s schedule, but it is good to be involved in something like this.”
In addition to the 103km feature event, Sunday’s road programme will include a 70km race. Saturday’s mountain bike races are over distances of 25km and 50km.
UJ want to prove a point in Varsity Netball
The University of Johannesburg will be aiming to build on the improved showing they gave in the University Sport South Africa week when their Varsity Netball campaign gets under way in Bloemfontein on August 27.
In July, the UJ outfit showed how their game had progressed by finishing third in the Ussa event, which was three places better than their 2016 effort.
Now coach Leigh-Ann Smal wants the team to build on that by aiming for at least a top three spot in the annual Varsity Netball tournament.
“The team really reached a high with some good performances at Ussa and we have been working on the areas that we have identified that need improving,” she said.
“We have also been concentrating on what strategies we need to take into the tournament to help us match the favoured universities.”
Smal rated the teams from North-West University, UP-Tuks and Free State University as the leading contenders.
She described the UJ squad as balanced and said they had been working on their mental strength for the challenge ahead, building on their positives and making sure they improved any weak points.
“We will have a good mix of players this season, because there is some experience but also several new girls in the squad. We have been assessing players on all three campuses to select one team and there will be something of a fresh look.”
The squad have a testing start to their campaign in Bloemfontein when they take on NWU and Free State in their two matches.
In four years of Varsity Netball there have been only two champions, with Free State winning in 2013 and 2014 and NWU taking the honours in 2015 and 2016.
“We know we have some tough matches to start with, but, if we can do well in those games, it will give us something to build on for the season,” said Smal.
Besides the matches in Bloemfontein, there will also be fixtures in Stellenbosch on August 27 and 28.
Nine teams will compete in the fifth edition of the tournament, which ends with the finals on October 9.
The game between Kovsies and UJ will be screened live on SuperSport Select (channel 210) at 7pm on August 28.
Olympic star wants to unlock his potential
Despite an injury setback at the Olympic Games in Rio this year, University of Johannesburg long jumper Ruswahl Samaai is facing the future confident he can unlock his potential.
The 24-year-old was recognised for his efforts during 2016 by being named UJ’s Sportsman of the Year at their annual awards function last month.
Reflecting on his year, the Johannesburg-based double national champion said it had “been an amazing season”.
“There were some lows, but I’ve learnt from this season and for me it is just a matter of keeping my head up and to keep aiming for my goals,” he said.
Although hampered by a hamstring tear at the Olympics, Samaai still managed to qualify for the final, jumping to ninth place with a best leap of 7.97m.
The transportation management student, who grew up in the Boland where he attended Paarl Gymnasium, said he wanted to jump farther next year than he had before and felt confident he could achieve that.
“My targets this year were not met due to the injury at the Olympics, but when I looked back on what I achieved, I realised the potential is there to improve.
“I’m working my way through that whole process and I know it will come.”
Samaai said he was strongly motivated to further prove his worth in the World Championships in London next year.
“My main goal is to qualify for that, which I know I can achieve. I also want to retain my national title to make it three years in a row and to improve my overall skills.”
The UJ student-athlete said he would strive to move to the next level by improving small aspects in his discipline.
“For me it’s all about finding the little things I can do to improve my technique, my run-up and my jumping.
“I know it’s hard to keep improving all the time but I always want to find a way to do that. I also want to add greater consistency to my jumping during meetings.”
Asked what message he had for aspiring athletes aiming for success, Samaai said it was all down to “hard work, dedication and faith”.
“If you put in the necessary work, success will come,” he said. “The most important thing is if you work hard now, keep your faith and stay dedicated, you will reap the rewards.”
Being named UJ Sportsman of the Year meant Samaai was able to tick a box in his goals for the year.
“This is one of the goals I wanted to achieve and to get this was such a blessing and an honour because you are judged not only against fellow athletes but all the sporting codes in the varsity.”
He said he was working with strength and conditioning coach Morne Nagel, who had taken his physical state “to a whole new level this year”.
“He has played a huge role in my performances as have the biokineticists and physiotherapists I have worked with.
“Although you are on your own when you compete there’s a big team at UJ who have invested their time in me and that has been very important for my career.”
Golf AdsTM congratulates SA born Olympic golfer Justin Rose on gold medal
Golf AdsTM congratulates South African-born Justin Rose who became golf’s first Olympic champion in over 100 years, as the Brit outlasted British Open champion Henrik Stenson at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Rose shot a final round 67, while Stenson’s 68 saw him hold on for second place and a silver medal, two shots adrift.
This win reaffirms the fact that golf is a well-established and growing sport in the country and that advertising within in clubhouses and greens is well poised to target the highly sought-after affluent golfing audience.
Simon Turck, Managing Director of Golf AdsTM, a division of Provantage Media Group which specialises in Out of Home marketing in South Africa’s niche golfing environment, commends Rose, championing him as, “A brilliant advert for the game.”
“The fact that South Africa also competed and had the full onsite support of Gary Player was tremendous. The Olympics will no doubt have a positive impact on golf around the globe and interest in the great game. Considering Rio only had two 18-hole courses before the Olympics, it distinguishes the South African golf industry as very well poised in terms of growth opportunities. We have an abundance of courses in South Africa and Golf AdsTM has access to over 175 of the top courses here.” says Turck.
Turck also congratulates top ranked South African in the Olympic field Jaco Van Zyl who not only carded the second ace in Olympic golf history, but also the second in just three rounds of competition. Van Zyl, born in Pretoria, reached the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking in February this year for the first time. Van Zyl’s ace occurred at the 8th hole of the Olympic course, a 172-yard par-3.
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