Para-cyclists show their mettle in Maritzburg at Track Champs

Following the inclusion of Para-cycling in the 2011 national track championships programme, the KZN hosts of the 2012 SA National Track and Para Cycling Championships at Alexandra Park, Pietermaritzburg provided a very warm welcome to South Africa's cyclists with physical disabilities.

Making the championships a particularly special event was the participation by Jaco Nel (C2) and Roxy Burns (C4) who, together with four of their road racing teammates, will be representing South Africa in the 2012 London Paralympic Games.

Both riders put in good performances at the championships in their time trial and pursuit events; however, working as they currently are at building their foundational fitness (with peak performances only scheduled for September), they achieved just short of their personal best times.

Exciting competition was provided especially in the C5 class, with Dane Wilson claiming gold in the time trial, beating Hannes Visser and Irish Matcheke into second and third places respectively. Wilson's performance in the time trial almost equalled his recent World Championship time, recorded in Los Angeles in February this year, which is remarkable, given the outdoor, concrete design of the Pietermaritzburg track.

Whilst acknowledging Wilson's superior performance in the time trial, Visser stamped his mark in the championship results by claiming gold in the pursuit event. This is an excellent result for 17-year old Visser, who clearly has considerable potential to perform at the highest level in the years ahead.

The C3 riders Juan Wilken and Coert van Straaten rode a good competition. Wilken claimed gold in both the time trial and pursuit events, ahead of van Straaten; however, a good 30 years age gap between the two riders makes van Straaten's performance an achievement to be proud of nevertheless.

Janos Plekker, one of South Africa's more accomplished Para-cyclists, posted good times in both his time trial and pursuit. If he had faced competition in his C4 class, it is certain that he could have shaved a few seconds off each of his performances.

Newcomer to the country's Para-cycling community was 18-year old Siobhan Walker, who competed in her first national championships as a recently classified C3 rider. Her time trial result was very good for a first time, and with training and increased stamina it is certain that she will build from the base provided by the 2012 championships.

SUMMARY OF RESULTS – Cycling SA KZN All Africa Challenge

SA National Track & Para Cycling Championships

Para – Men:

C2 Time Trial: 

  1. Jaco Nel

C3 Time Trial:

  1. Juan Wilken
  2. Coert van Straaten

C4 Time Trial:

  1. Janos Plekker

C5 Time Trial:

  1. Dane Wilson
  2. Hannes Visser
  3. Irish Matcheke

C2 3000m Pursuit:

  1. Jaco Nel

C3 3000m Pursuit:

  1. Juan Wilken
  2. Coert van Straaten

C4 4000m Pursuit:

  1. Janos Plekker

C5 4000m Pursuit:

  1. Hannes Visser 
  2. Dane Wilson 
  3. Irish Matcheke

Para – Women:

C3 Time Trial:

  1. Siobhan Walker

C4 Time Trial:

  1. Roxy Burns

C3 3000m Pursuit:

  1. Siobhan Walker

C4 3000m Pursuit:

  1. Roxy Burns

Photo: cyclenation.co.za