The United States played host to the final round of the 2013 UCI BMX Supercross World Cup Series in the city of Chula Vista, San Diego, at the weekend. Elite BMX racers Teagan O’Keeffe and Sifiso Nhlapo represented South Africa at the Supercross track, situated at the state-of-the-art Olympic Training Centre.
The 2013 Supercross World Cup season has presented some top results from the twenty-year-old, who has steadily improved her world ranking with each race. Early in the year at the first World Cup in Manchester, Great Britain, Teagan finished 24th. This was followed by a 5th place result in the finals of round 2 in Argentina and a 10th place result in the semis of round 3 in The Netherlands in May and June respectively.
O’Keeffe had a good weekend, loving the big open track, but it took her a while to get used to the Supercross start hill and the huge jumps. “It was a super demanding track and my legs were dead at the end of each lap,” said O’Keeffe.
Sponsorship for athletes like O’Keeffe remains crucial for training purposes and access to the world-class tracks that, in some instances, require a rental charged per hour in order to train on them. With most of the Americans living and training at the Olympic Centre, O’Keeffe said that the host nation were confident and fast during the race heats.
“I plan to relocate to San Diego next year to be closer to the facility. I would like to make an arrangement with other cyclists to see if we can split the costs by training together on these specific tracks at Chula Vista, at least once a month,” O’Keeffe continued.
Despite a crash in the practice, O’Keeffe came back to place 15th in the Time Trial (the top 16 riders go through to a Superfinal), and progressed through her mains as far as the semis, where she finished in 14th place.
“My starts were really slow and my coach was pushing me to go quicker, and I hit the gate in practice, flipped over and rolled down the 8 metre start hill. I had no physical wounds, just wounded pride,” said Teagan.
Like many of her compatriots, O’Keeffe is excited at the prospect of training at the new Giba Gorge Supercross track in KwaZulu-Natal, and plans to come home earlier this year to test the new facility in her off-season training.
“I have spoken to a number of coaches and riders from around the world and they are all very keen to come and use the Giba Gorge facility in their winter months,” she said. “It is going to be so good for South African BMX to be exposed to international riders, coaches and training techniques.
“I am excited to have the opportunity to help and encourage the up-and-coming local girls. I remember, only to well, how daunting it was for me to go down the Supercross start hill the first time!”
Before she heads home though, Teagan will compete in one more race in the ABA (American Bicycle Association) circuit at the end of October.
Teagan thanked SASCOC, National Lottery, Cycling SA, BMX SA and everyone else who supported her during this year. “I reached most of my goals this year. It was a huge adjustment for me moving to the USA, and living and training on my own, so I am pleased to have finished 12th overall in the UCI Supercross World Cup standings.”
Photo credit: Jerry Landrum/BMXmania.com