As an élite field of women cyclists lined up in Brazzaville for the All-Africa Games 62,5 km road race, among them were two Zimbabwean high school students. Helen Mitchell and Skye Davidson, both U6 students at Hellenic Academy, took the bold move to enter the women’s élite race at the All-Africa Games, despite upcoming A level exams, and despite it being their first race against a much older and more experienced fleet of cyclists.
As the race got under way on 12 September 2015, Mitchell pulled out toward the leader pack, who expected the relative novice cyclist they had not raced with before, to quickly fade. But fade she did not. Instead, Mitchell continued on strong and narrowly missed a bronze medal, as she was overtaken by a South African cyclist, and edged into an impressive fourth place finish. Teammate Skye Davidson finished 12th in Brazzaville.
Since switching from her previous passion of triathlon to focus on road cycling in 2015, the quiet and humble girl from Hellenic has stunned Zimbabwe with her achievements. In February she won the gold medal at the Confederation of African Cycling (Cac) Road Championships in South Africa, in a dramatic sprint ending against teammate and friend Davidson. Last month Mitchell won yet another accolade – a gold medal in the Sun City Cycle 4 Cansa Event for the junior women’s category.
Having just landed on home Zimbabwean ground from the All Africa Games, both Mitchell and Davidson have now flown to the United States for the 2015 UCI Road World Championships to be held in Richmond Virginia 19-27. The women’s junior 15km time trial will take place on the 21st with the women’s 64.9 km junior road circuit occurring on the 25th. The UCI Road World Championships is an annual event, and is expected to draw over 450,000 live spectators as well as tens of millions of television spectators worldwide.
In the Junior Women’s category of the UCI World Championships there are 98 cyclists competing from 29 nations. Among them are two Zimbabwean 17 year old young women, ready to lift their nation’s flag high.