South Africa’s Para-cycling squad is holding their own amongst tough competition at the 2012 UCI Para-cycling Track World Championships in Los Angeles (USA).
Racing began on Thursday 9th February at the Home Depot Center in Carson, after the team had endured an exhausting 27-hour trip. Having all settled in well, Roxy Burns was at the helm in the first event – the 500m Time Trial.
Suffering what she calls a “dreadful start”, Roxy never really settled into a rhythm and lost a critical 0.8 seconds, the difference between a 5th and a 3rd place. The disappointment of being so close yet so far was evident as Roxy’s build up and preparations ahead of this event since the Oceania Championships, New Zealand, November 2011 was positioning her for a podium finish in the World Championships.
Friday’s racing (10th February) saw the remaining athletes participate in the pursuit events. Janos Plekker (C4) took part in the 4000m pursuit. For Plekker, this was to be his main event but the competition, especially from the Czech contingent, was simply phenomenal. Top international riders in the C4 class routinely out-perform their physically more able colleagues in the C5 class. Plekker recorded a 15th position, a little below mid-way in his bunch of competitors.
Jaco Nel competed in these World Championships for the first time in his new C2 class, having secured two silver medals as a C1 rider in 2011. The pursuit is not Nel’s main event; however, the 12th place finish that he achieved is indicative, to some extent, of the podium finish possibilities that he has in Saturday’s time trial race. Cerebral palsied riders like Nel are less competitive compared to limb-affected riders in the same class over the pursuit distance, but come into their own competing in the shorter 1000m time trial.
Relative newcomer Dane Wilson, in only his second UCI international event, finished in 16th position in the C5 class 4000m pursuit. Even though today’s (Saturday 11th) TT is Wilson’s domain, his time in the pursuit (5:16.691) is a personal best achievement and a new South African record!
Day 3, 11 Feb
09:00 - 13:00
C4 (W) 3000m pursuit qualifying session: Roxy Burns
C2 (M) 1000m TT: Jaco Nel
14:00 - 20:00
C4 (M) 1000m TT: Stephan Herholdt, Janos Plekker
C4 (W) 3000m pursuit: Roxy Burns (if rider qualifies)
Day 4, 12 Feb
09:00 - 13:00
Team sprint qualifying session: Dane Wilson, Stephan Herholdt, Jaco Nel
14:00 - 18:00
Team sprint final: Dane Wilson, Stephan Herholdt, Jaco Nel (if team qualifies)
Scratch race (M): Dane Wilson, Stephan Herholdt, Jaco Nel (if riders qualify)