Namibian cycling officials have hailed the performances of Vera Looser and Alex Miller after they finished seventh and 30th respectively at the UCI MTB Cross Country Marathon World Championships in Scotland on Sunday.
Looser’s performance was the best yet by a Namibian cyclist at a world championship, and the president of the Namibian Cycling Federation, Axel Theissen said it was a huge accomplishment.
“I think its a phenomenal achievement to be the seventh best rider in the world. It’s a huge accomplishment for Vera as well as for Namibia, it’s massive. Alex also had a fantastic ride – to come 30th against a very strong field was a great performance,” he said.
“For Africa the results were also great – in the women’s race there were three riders in the top ten, and in the men’s race there were three in the top 30,” he added.
Mona Mitterwallner of Austria won the elite women’s race over 95km in a time of five hours seven minutes and 50 seconds (5:07:50), while Candice Lill of South Africa finished 54 seconds behind to win the silver medal, and Adelheid Morath of Germany 9:50 behind to win the bronze medal.
Looser finished seventh, 17:52 behind the winner, while Kimberley Le Court of Mauritius was the third African home, finishing tenth, 19:26 behind the winner.
Henrique Da Silva Avancini of Brazil won the elite men’s race in 4:14:42, while Martin Stosek of the Czech Republic came second, 28 seconds behind, and Lukas Baum of Germany third, 1:43 behind.
Matthew Beers of South Africa, who came 20th, 8:23 behind the winner, was the first African home, while compatriot Alan Hatherley, who came 22nd, 9:45 behind, was the second African home.
Miller, who came 30th,15:06 behind the winner, was the third African home.
Namibia’s national coach Hans du Toit said Looser was now one of the world’s top mountain bike marathon riders.
“I thought a top 10 finish by Vera before the race would have been a really good result, so for her to finish seventh is really quite something. She’s showing that she is now in the top league of the world mountain bike marathon scene for women,” he said.
“Alex is not so experienced yet, so I think it was a really good performanceby him as well. He was one of the youngest riders in the top 30 and I think in the years to come he’s going to get better and better in the marathon,” he added.
Namibia’s junior riders Kevin Lowe and Daniel Hahn are next up at the World Championships, as they will compete in the MTB XCO Cross Country junior men’s category tomorrow, while Hugo Hanh will compete in the men’s u23 category on Friday.
With Lowe and Daniel Hahn both ranked amongst the world’s top 30 junior riders, Theissen said he was hoping for more success for Namibia.
“Both riders have a chance of finishing in the top ten, it’s not impossible. If they can make it, it will be great for Namibia, so we are holding thumbs for them,” he said.
On Saturday, Miller will once again be in action in the elite men’s category of the MTB XCO Cross Country race, while Melissa Hinz and Monique du Plessis will represent Namibia in the elite women’s road race on Sunday.
Theissen, meanwhile, also attended the international cycling federation’s annual congress, which he said could have positive results for Namibia and the Southern African region.
“There was a record number of attendees with 152 delegates from national federations, while all the UCI leaders were there. I met delegates from other Southern African federations like Botswana, Malawi and Kenya and we had fruitful discussions, regarding further cooperation and staging more international events in our region,” he said.
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