Para-cyclists captivated by warm London welcome

South Africa’s Paralympians, and especially the Para-cyclists are in awe ahead of the opening ceremony that will mark the start of the 2012 London Paralympics, on Wednesday 29th August.

After the stirring Lead SA send-off at OR Tambo International airport on Tuesday 21st August, the team was suitably impressed with the attention to detail upon their arrival in London.

“It was wonderful having SAA do all of the luggage and equipment check-in at the hotel before our departure, allowing us to really enjoy the Lead SA send off,” said Dr. Mike Burns, Cycling SA Director of Para-cycling and Paralympic Cycling Team Manager.

“Equally wonderful, and an indication of the support we are enjoying in London, was the smooth passage through Heathrow customs, baggage collect and commute to the Paralympic Village in East London upon our arrival. Sebastian Coe's team is doing a superb job welcoming the athletes, keeping the logistic cogs well oiled and attending to almost any athlete need imaginable.”

The four Para-cyclists, Roxy Burns and Jaco Nel (Track cycling) and Madre Carinus and Gerhard Viljoen (tri-cycling) are settling in well with their practice sessions well underway, with the track team spending the morning at the velodrome and the road team out at the Redbridge Cycling Centre.

“The velodrome was everything we imagined it to be; spanking new, a top class facility and well managed,” continued Dr. Burns. “The road team had planned to ride a circuit on the country roads around Redbridge, but this was abandoned because of the traffic. However, the facilities at the Redbridge Cycling Centre are superb, offering a 2 kilometre circuit that includes almost every technical condition a Para-cyclist might encounter in a road race – alternating up-and-down hill sections, hairpin bends, sharp downhill corners – all that was missing was a cobblestone section.”

The two remaining Para-cyclists currently rounding off their training in Switzerland, hand cyclists Ernst van Dyk and Stuart McCreadie, will join their teammates on the 28th August, the day before the London Paralympics opening ceremony.