Multiple South African cycling champion Kevin Evans has been selected to represent the South African team at the 2013 Maccabi Games to be held in Jerusalem next month.
The inclusion of the 35-year-old professional mountain bike racer from Plettenberg Bay in South Africa’s Western Cape province will boost the small team’s medal hopes at the Games, which is held every four years in Israel and is open to Jewish athletes from around the world.
Evans is a former multiple South African champion in marathon mountain bike racing (2006, 2007, 2008 and 2010), a two-time Elite mountain bike cross-country national champion (2007 and 2008) and was the Elite men’s national road time trial champion in 2010.
“I haven’t done a road time trial since 2010. I’m looking forward to zipping up a skinsuit to represent South Arica at the Maccabi Games,” said Evans, who is returning to peak racing form following a series of complications after an emergency appendectomy in December 2011.
“I wanted to compete at the 2009 Maccabi Games, but unfortunately my schedule didn’t allow it. That was when I was racing road and mountain bikes at home and abroad. This year, it works out perfectly for me. I’m aiming to be at a physical peak at the end of June for the marathon mountain bike world champs (in case I get selected), so I’ll be in the right condition to contest the Maccabi Games at my best,” added Evans.
The opening ceremony is on Thursday 18 July 2013 at the Teddy Kollek Stadium in Jerusalem. More than 8 000 athletes from over 60 countries are expected at the 19th edition of the quadrennial showpiece.
The Games is organised by an International Maccabiah Committee and is sanctioned by the International Olympic Committee and World Federation of Sports. The Maccabi Games ranks among the five largest sports gatherings in the world (in number of participants).
Evans will compete in the Elite category and will be joined by compatriot, Simon Adler, a 20-year-old mountain bike racer from Cape Town.
“I’ve heard there are some really strong riders from Europe and there is always going to be a couple of riders that surprise you. A medal is not a given, I’m expecting a big battle, which I’m looking forward to,” smiled Evans.
Heading up the rest of the South African cycling contingent in the age-group categories is Issy Zimmerman, the individual time trial gold medallist from the 2009 Maccabi Games in the 40-49 year age group.
The year 2009 was the first time that cycling was held at the Games. Zimmerman will compete in the same category at this year’s Games, aiming to defend his title and chasing success for South Africa in the road race.
“I was fortunate to be able to win a gold medal in 2009. The Maccabi Games are significant for the Jewish community and it was a special moment to help the South African team get onto the medal table early on. The fact that my dad won a Maccabi Games gold medal in boxing in 1952 also meant a great deal to our community and family. Our team is super-motivated for more success this year,” said Zimmerman.
Joining Zimmerman to represent South Africa in the 40-49 category is Benjy Stoch, silver medallist in the individual time trial at the 2013 South African Veteran Road Championships.
The remaining two members of the seven-man contingent are Rabbi Levi Popack (30-39 year category), who will be competing internationally for the first time and Israel-born Dan Chait in the 50-years-and-over category.
2013 Maccabi Games cycling schedule:
Thursday 18 July: Opening Ceremony, Jerusalem
Sunday 21 July: Individual Time Trial, Ramat Hagolan – 26km out-and-back course with 105m of ascent.
Thursday 25 July: Road Race, Ramat Hagolan – 19km circuit with 238m of ascent per lap. Junior and Elite Men – 6 laps, 114km; Veteran men (30-years and older) – 4 laps, 76km.