By: Bright Chikele..
TEAM spirit, grit and determination shone through as more than 90 cyclists raced between Solwezi and Kalumbila towns in the First Quantum Minerals (FQM) annual Mine-2-Mine challenge.
The race was a professional international cycling event, with the main focus being developing the sport in Zambia. A large number of participants travelled from Lusaka for the event, including all the top Zambian road cyclists, in addition to a number of South Africans.
The top prize of US$1,000 in the 140 kilometre cycling race men’s category was scooped up by renowned South African cyclist Ben Fish while FQM’s Bright Chintu took the US$500 second prize and the third prize of US$250 in the same category went to Jason Meaton of South Africa.
The race featured three races in one along the same route, with varying distances of 20, 80 and 140 kilometres starting from Shoprite Mall in Solwezi and ending at Sentinel mine’s Golf Club in Kalumbila town.
The annual race attracted more than 90 cyclists from across Zambia and as far away as South Africa. The race consisted of categories for men, women, juniors and relay teams for each of the three distances.
The event also drew support from mine employees and communities along the route.
Speaking after the event FQM Director of Operations Matt Pascall said the event was important because it allowed team building between different companies, adding that the race enabled people from different operations to mingle and have a shared experience in sports.
”It has gone a long way to build team spirit and it’s good for team building. It’s an important and unique event because it has cyclists from different parts of the country and this is something that we have been missing in Zambia for a long time,” said Mr Pascall.
Meanwhile, Kansanshi mine Assistant General Manager Meiring Burger said the race aimed to motivate cyclists across the board, both recreational and semi-professional cyclists in Zambia. It also serves as an important event for team building and competition for companies based in Zambia.
Mr Burger added: “If you don’t have a competition to aim for, it becomes difficult to find the motivation to train. This cycling race is there for people to compete on a local, national and international level, so the motivation is definitely right up there. It is also important for professional cycling in Zambia because we want to see how close we can get to have a Zambian cyclist qualify for the 2020 Olympics and this race forms part of our effort to enable Zambian cyclists to get there,“ said Mr Burger.
The race was organized by First Quantum’s Kansanshi Mine in conjunction with the two main sponsors, JV Chantete Mining Services and Quattro Co Ltd. and it forms part of the Cycling Association of Zambia (CAZ) 2016 racing calendar.