Team Rwanda Cycling teenage sensation Samuel Mugisha will be eying a podium finish as the African Mountain Bike Championships kick off today in Musanze.
The 17-year-old rider who will be competing in his first mountain bike race is keen on making an impression at the continental showpiece in his home area. The venue is on a piece of land just right next to the Africa Rising Cycling Centre, home to the national cycling team.
Mugisha, an upcoming rider with the national team, has already made a mark in the road race category and would like to replicate the same success in the mountain bike category even though it is completely different tactics and conditions.
National team head coach Jonathan ‘Jock’ Boyer has described Mugisha as a rider with a ‘great attitude and discipline’, attributes he believes will boost his chances of a good finish at the African competition.
He said, “Mugisha has a great attitude and is a disciplined boy. It will be his first mountain bike race so he is going to face stiff competition from the other international riders. The juniors are really strong this year but Samuel will have fun out there.”
Boyer admits that it will be difficult to make a podium finish but that is the target at hand and Mugisha has what it takes to achieve the set target.
“It is very exciting to compete at the continental championships, it is a dream come true especially that it is in Rwanda. My target is to be on the podium and with the training I have been doing recently, I believe I can make it,” said the thrilled Mugisha.
The teenager who started riding only last year earned a month’s training at the World Cycling Centre in Potchefstroom, South Africa in January before competing at the African Cycling Championships in Pietermaritzburg where he finished eighth in the junior boys’ individual time trial category in his first race ever.
Mugisha faces tough competition from a field of experienced junior riders including Johan Hartzenberg (South Africa) and the Namibian duo of Brandon Plaatjies and Tristan de Lange.
Today’s start list: Samuel Mugisha (Rwanda), Johan Hartzenberg (South Africa), Brandon Plaatjies and Tristan de Lange (Namibia), Chao Scallan, Jake Greennay, Thomas Haooon and Liam Beahan (Zimbabwe), Alexandre Mayer (Mauritius), Hussein Ssekanga (Uganda) and Manasi Katleho (Lesotho).