GOLD COAST - Alan Hatherly rode his way to South Africa’s first Commonwealth Games medal on day eight of the event on Thursday when he finished third in the men’s mountain bike cross-country race in a titanic struggle against a powerhouse New Zealand team.
Kiwi Sam Gaze, the man who beat Hatherly into silver at last year’s World Under-23 MTB cross-country championships, did it again.
Hatherly, the 2014 African Youth Games champion, went into the race on the back of a race-to-fitness, having broken his arm as recently as February.
"Wow, I’m so stoked with this," said the normally reserved 22-year-old.
"Obviously I was aiming for a medal but to get a medal at this level is huge, racing the best in the world. It’s a super hard course!
Like Cherie Redecker, Hatherly heads to Egypt for next weekend’s African championships but first thanked the team who got him here.
"Obviously thanks to the family, my girlfriend, Jade Sanders, my mechanic JP Jacobs, Team Spur, Team SA and everyone who played a part in this medal."
In the women’s race, South Africa’s Mariske Strauss and Redecker finished seventh and 11th respectively on the testing Naranga Forest Course.
Strauss ended 4min 48sec behind England’s gold medallist, Annie Last, the same rider who partnered her in the recent Cape Epic seven-day event.
Germany-based Redecker punctured fairly early on and was never able to make up the lost ground and was +10:52 back.
This is a brutal, unforgiving sport, and both South Africans were reduced to tears afterwards as the race stress drained from them.
Said Strauss: "I had a terrible start so I think I pushed a bit hard and ended up going too deep and struggled. It was a tough day out but we’ll keep on fighting."
African News Agency (ANA)