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Zimbabwean biker wary of Namibians, South Africans

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Zimbabwe’s top mountain biker Lee John is wary of the challenge likely to be posed by Namibian and South African riders at the 2011 African Continental Mountain Bike Championships which kick off today in Jonkershoek South Africa.

Zimbabwe has two representatives at the championships in local rider, John who will race in the gruelling cross country event while South Africa- based Michael Murdoch will take part in the downhill section.

In an interview with NewsDay Sport from South Africa, John said their main rivals had more representation compared to Zimbabwe.

“There is only the two of us while the South Africans and the Namibians have sent large contingents of bikers.

“South Africans and Namibians have a rich tradition in mountain biking but I’m confident that we will do well in our individual races and gain some qualification points for the 2012 London Olympics.”

“We both have experience in competing in South Africa but it is my first time at the continental Championships,” said John.

Zimbabwe’s highest achievement in mountain biking came in 2007 when ace Antipass Kwari sealed a qualification berth for the Beijing Games with an inspired 8th place finish. John will be hard pressed to repeat that herculean effort.

In the cross country race, John faces a daunting task as he will take on the current world number two, Burry Stander and his strong South African team which includes Cape Epic winner Kevin Evans.

Murdoch on the other hand is a semi-professional rider on the South African circuit where he has gained valuable experience in downhill racing where riders race down a mountain-side at breakneck speeds.

Some of the countries expected to mount a strong challenge include Zambia, Kenya and Rwanda.

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