SA race winner overwhelmed by local support

2010-08-03 00:00

THE UCI BMX World Championships might be a thing of the past, but 51-year-old Sharlene McGilvray is still living in a dream after winning gold in the 45+ Women’s Cruiser Category on Sunday.

“It still hasn’t really sunk in,” she said from her Howick home yesterday.

McGilvray overcame strong challenges from New Zealand’s Jennifer Strachan and Holland’s Liesbeth van Jagt to improve on her world number two ranking and win in front of an exuberant home crowd.

This was McGilvray’s sixth successive World Championships and undoubtedly her most successful.

The Pietermaritzburg spinning instructor said that she was overcome with emotion before the race even began.

“When they announced my name and country before the race began, the stadium erupted,” said McGilvray.

“I’ve never experienced a moment that incredible before and I nearly burst into tears.”

McGilvray had to contain her emotions and perform on the track under the pressure of the crowd’s expectation.

“During the race I didn’t hear a thing. I just told myself to keep it together,” she said.

“The rhythm section at the end of the track had lost it for a lot of the riders, so I had to really concentrate through there. It was only once I crossed the finish line that I realised I had done it.”

McGilvray paid tribute to the thousands of fans who poured into the Royal Showgrounds at the weekend.

“The crowd was fantastic. They screamed every time they saw a South African rider and showed their support,” she said

“Pietermaritzburg people are warm by nature and they really did us proud.”

McGilvray added that she considered the event as a whole to have been a resounding success.

“It was the best World Championships ever and I never had any doubts that it wouldn’t be,” McGilvray said.

I’ve never experienced a moment that incredible before and I nearly burst into tears.

ABOUT 9 000 spectators attended the UCI BMX World Championships at the weekend.

Event director Alec Lenferna said about 5 500 spectators watched the “Elite” categories on Saturday with another 3 500 attending the “Cruiser” class races on Sunday.

“The UCI has given us the thumbs-up and said that this was the best in the event’s history, so we’ll take that as a sign that we have done a good job,” said Lenferna.

He added that while the event ran smoothly on the surface, there were times when a few problem areas needed to be attended to.

“We made a few mistakes — operational things. But this didn’t detract from the event.”

The director of Pietermaritzburg Tourism, Melanie Veness, complimented the event organisers on the work they had done in making the event a success.

“It exceeded all expectations. From the organisers to the local and international spectators, it was amazing.”

Veness said the event has benefited tourism in the city and its economy, with accommodation around the city profiting from foreign visitors.

“Not only did a lot of money come into the city as a result of the event but it also helped in creating a legacy for the city”, she added. — WR.

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