By Muhammad M. Dhakaba.
Two Ugandans – John Odoto and Mary Aleper will join the world’s best junior male and female cyclists at the 2021 UCI Junior Track Cycling World Championships, from September 1 – 5 in Cairo – Egypt.
Over five days off intense competition, the new international velodrome of Cairo will see rainbow jerseys awarded in 22 events – the highest number since the event’s inception in 1975 as cyclists of both genders parity compete in the Scratch Race, individual as well team sprints; individual and team pursuits, keirin, points race, Omnium, time trial, Madison and, for the first time – the elimination.
The competitors will be particularly motivated after the cancellation of the 2020 edition due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the postponement of this year’s event from April to September.
“The Junior category only lasts two years, but it’s a critical phase in athlete development,” said Cycling Canada’s NextGen coach Jenny Trew in the spring, as she feared her young proteges wouldn’t be able to fly to Cairo. Canadians are now among the 46 nations who confirmed their participation in the event.
The return to Africa, after previous editions in Casablanca (Morocco) in 1986 and Cape Town (South Africa) in 1997 and 2008, sees a record number of African nations participating, including countries competing for the first time.
“After the Cairo event, the two cyclists will travel for the UCI world Cycling Championship scheduled for Belgium from September 15-24,” revealed Uganda Cycling Association (UCA) spokesman, Dennis Ssembatya Jr.
Besides several African countries including Algeria, Burundi, Ivory Coast, Morocco, Mali, Nigeria, Niger, South Africa, Rwanda, Senegal, Uganda, South Sudan and Sudan, Europe has a sizeable number of participating countries.
Asia is also represented through Malaysia, Hong Kong and India as the US has too, entered a squad of versatile talents of riders.