After a frustrating 2014, South African Para-cycling ace Roxy Burns hopes to make 2015 her year as she uses the 2015 African Track Cycling Championships from 21-25 January as a stepping stone to the UCI Para-Cycling Track World Championships in the Netherlands at the end of March © Supplied/Gameplan Media
The Western Cape based rider has a condition called ataxia telangiectasia, which is a hereditary disease that affects the brain as well as other parts of the body but it has not affected her ability to ride a bike. The C4 Para-cyclist is looking to 2015 as a major year, not only with a World Championships soon, but also with the Rio Paralympic Games just over a year away.

“2014 was not a great year for me to be honest,” a frank Burns said. “I didn’t do a lot of riding because I was focusing a lot on my studies but I really hope that 2015 will be the year that I make an impact and it starts with the World Champs qualifiers at the African Champs next week.”

With the stresses of university life behind her Burns hopes to put all of her efforts into riding and making sure that she is in running condition by the time she reached the newly revamped Velodrome in Pietermaritzburg on 21 January.

“I have been training really hard since the beginning of this year and I am just trying to get myself back up to a competitive speed so that when I get to the Continental Champs, I am able to ride well enough to get myself into that South African team for the World Champs.

“I am a little bit nervous for the event because of my lack of preparation and my lack of time on the track but I think that when the event comes I will be ready because I have been working really hard off the bike this year so I am not overly worried,” an optimistic Burns added.

The World Track Championships have been placed early in the year, which means that this is the only opportunity for Burns to qualify for the Worlds. She sees this as a slight bit of added pressure but she is not too concerned about it considering her impressive international pedigree.

“The African Champs is our only qualifying track event for the World Championships due to the South African champs being later in the year so it does add another dimension to the event and even though I have been in this situation before there is always a little bit of pressure when you know that there is only one event to use as your qualifier.

“I have just got the World Champs on my mind at the moment and I hope that I can be strong enough to get myself good enough times that I can be on the plane to the Netherlands!” she mentioned excitedly.

The paracyclist has an uphill task getting herself into the best shape she can in time for the African Champs but she is not too concerned about the competition and how she is going to shape up against the best riders in Africa because of her goal to get to the World Championships.

“I am going into the event to just race against myself and try and qualify for Worlds – that’s it. The competition will take care of itself and even though I am sure that I won’t get my best times in Pietermaritzburg it is all part of the build-up process that will hopefully peak when I take on the best in the world in the Netherlands in March!” a focused Burns explained.