The 30th South African Speed Roller Skating Championship is over and Roller Sport South Africa can be proud of the wonderful event. Following the government priorities, RSSA is actively promoting more female participation and trying to get the whole nation participating in physical activities.
Apart from the provincial team participation a special Beginner section for first time participant from all clubs in the country has been added to the SA championship. What makes the section unique is that all skaters in the beginner races have to skate on the same skate. Everybody skates on the same type of skate, with the same wheels, bearings etc. Every skater has an equal chance to win with finance playing no part in the results of the races.
The 2007 SA championship was organized in March as Sport and Recreation SA in recognition of RSSA priorities for equal chance in participation made finance available to assist financially challenged skaters to travel to the championships. The funds made a great difference to the teams who have to travel very long distances. The Western Cape Province travel 1600km and the Eastern Cape 1100km to reach Pretoria.
The track championship took place at the Pilditch stadium Roller Skating track in Pretoria. The 200m bank track was built in 1996 and is the only track of its kind in Africa. As we are experiencing one of the hottest summers in a long time all the races started at 16h00. The first day of the championship and the very first event, 300m TT for Senior Men, started with a record breaking result by Tim Mitchell. The first record broken set the pace for the rest of the event.
On the 29th March many records were broken. It was the official opening and we were very happy to have representatives from Sport and Recreation SA and the Tshwane City council attending the opening. National TV recorded the event and we are looking forward to the broadcast. Various newspapers run articles on the championship.
The evening of the 30th was no different and the skaters continued their record breaking performances. Unfortunately the relay race resulted in a broken arm for Shaun Nel from Eastern Cape and that was the end of his championship.
In the Senior Men’s races Tim Mitchell( 24) and Marcel Louw (29) finished every race with millimeters between first and second place. Brian Baloyi ended in a very close 3rd position in all the races. The Junior’s did not hold back. Following the seniors their races finished with less than a wheel to split the placements. Karabo Manamela and Lesiba Ramolobeng dominated the sprints and a very surprising star came from Western Cape, Jerome Hudson and 3000m runner who represents his province in athletics skated very good in the 10 and 15km races.
Apart from the beginner sections doing 400 and 800m on the track in age groups of under 13, 15 and over 15 the more experienced skaters competed in under 13, 15, 17 and over 17 doing 500m, 1000m and up to 5000m races. The skaters who would like to be considered for the SA team competed in the Junior and Senior sections and do the same distances that will be skated at World championship.
After a rest day on the 31st we continued with the road championship at Mandela Village, Hammanskraal on the 1st April 2007. The heat was unbelievable with full sun ( an African sun) and nowhere to hide from the 36 degrees Celsius heat. It was our second big event in Mandela Village and the wonderful 400m road circuit remains a tribute to Willie and Madeleine van Heerden’s dedication to the development of skating in the previously disadvantaged areas. The circuit is very fast and we cannot wait for international skaters to compete at this wonderful venue.
Unfortunately we do not have electronic timing equipment in Mandela Village and did the 200m as races. This resulted in new records being set again. Some of the sections broke records in each heat and again in the finals. Most impressive being the senior men 200m by Tim, 500m Marcel, junior ladies 200m Tumelo, Junior men 500m Rael and many more.
The improvements in the times, across the field of skaters were truly fantastic. Skaters in 5th and 6th places skated times that would have been good enough to win the races last year. The new skating equipment funded by the National Lotteries Distribution Fund is now making a big impact on the quality of skaters in the country.
Last year’s SA team was selected in order to mature the young athletes and expose them to International racing at a young age. We are very pleased that all 3 skaters, senior men Brian Baloyi, Junior men Karabo Manamela and Junior lady Tumelo Moteme all improved their times in each race they participated in.
One of RSSA aims is to find funding to allow our skaters to compete in more International events.
For now RSSA will be concentrating on the approval of participation in World championship and to find finance to attend the event in Colombia. Trials for a team selection are set for June. We are looking forward to the continued improvement of our skaters and better performances internationally.