Team Rwanda Cycling’s chances of qualifying for the Rio 2016 Olympics were left in the balance after South Africa and Mauritius finished as the top two countries in the men’s elite race at the African Mountain Bike Continental Championships in Musanze.
Nathan Byukusenge was eighth after clocking 2:06:14 from six laps of the 6km cross-country course, 32 seconds behind Yannick Lincoln of Mauritius, who finished in sixth position.
South African James Reid won the gold medal after posting 1:54:28 as countrymen Matthys Beukes (1:58:08) and Rourke Croeser (1:59:29) walked away with the silver and bronze medals, respectively.
South Africa is ranked 16th in the world and should they maintain their place among the top 23, Mauritius and Rwanda will represent Africa taking up the two available slots for the continent.
Team Rwanda head coach Jonathan Boyer said, “Nathan rode really well and his experience in mountain biking was very valuable for him. He has qualified for the Olympics 95 per cent.”
Meanwhile, Brendon Davids won gold in the men’s U-23 category to defend his title after clocking 1:59:56 finishing fourth overall. Country-mate Arno du Toit won the silver medal after crossing the line after 2:05:42 while Rwanda’s Joseph Areruya won bronze posting 2:13:09.
The 19 year old Areruya said, “This is a dream come true; to win a bronze medal in my first ever mountain bike race. It was a very tough race but I managed to do well and I am glad I did get to this level.” In the women’s category, 19 year old Bianca Haw won gold while fellow compatriot Cherie Vale bagged silver and Namibian Michelle Vorster won bronze.