All set for Madiba sport day

Nelson Mandela (AFP)
Nelson Mandela (AFP)

Johannesburg - Professional cyclist Martin Scheppel says he looks forward to stiff competition in the 67km cycle race at the 2014 Nelson Mandela Sport and Culture Day, in Tshwane on November 22.

"The route is a lot shorter than the normal races and will definitely be a lot faster and have a lot of action," Scheppel said during the launch of the Unite4Mandela campaign, in Johannesburg on Tuesday.

"The tactics change completely and there'll be more competition. It's really going to be a dash for the line and we're definitely going to do our best.

"There's also reason for everyone to race hard for the prize money that has been put up."

The Team Europcar SA rider will be among the elite field of cyclists competing on the day, after it was revealed that this year's event would feature cycling and road running races, open to both amateur and professional athletes.

Last year, South Africa's national soccer and rugby teams played international friendlies at the FNB Stadium, in recognition of the former president's contribution to sport in South Africa.

The 67km cycling race will start at Loftus Versveld and finish at the Union Buildings, with a prize purse of R250 000.

Former Comrades Marathon winner Ludwick Mamabolo, who will compete in the 27km road running race, said he was thrilled to be part of the event.

"I'm looking forward to the big day and I hope to do well and win," Mamabolo said.

"It will be a competitive race for me, but at the end of the day, it will be mostly about honouring the national icon Nelson Mandela."

Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula said the event was aimed at using sport to promote social cohesion in the country.

"We are grateful for this initiative as it encourages South Africans to come together through sport," Mbalula said.

"This is a great platform to promote unity among each other and we encourage South Africans to participate and come together as nation, to walk, cycle and run.

"Last year we watched people battle it out on the field through rugby and others through football, but this year we're really getting people out there to participate."

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