Current national elite men's BMX Champion Kyle Dodd has bounced back from a potentially career ending wrist injury to be on the start line to defend his SA crown at the Alrode BMX Championships in Gauteng on October 11.
Dodd shattered his wrist in a heavy fall in competition in April that required extensive surgery involving a plate and nine screws, but the main concern was the damage to the ulna nerves controlling his hand, leading many to speculate about his future as the country's top BMX exponent.
However Cycling South Africa sent the 21-year-old Gauteng ace to Durban where his recovery and rehabilitation was handled by the highly regarded Prime Human Performance Institute at the Moses Mabhida Stadium.
Six months later, Dodd has not only recovered to be able to take his place at the national championships, but the Jeep Team athlete will also travel with the fellow elite South African BMXer Alex Limberg and coach Jonnathan Chislett to the Olympic test event in Rio to familiarise himself with the track, keeping his hopes of qualification for the Games alive.
“I can't actually believe that I am back on my bike,” he enthused. “It is much earlier than expected. I didn't actually plan on finishing this year! The hand is good and strong, and now that I am riding the bike again I am not as sketchy as I thought I would be.”
Dodd said that the serious injury had taken its toll on his confidence, but said that he was rebuilding his mental edge as he returns to elite competition.
“It took me a few weeks just to get confident riding and jumping. It’s taken a while but it has actually helped to make me mentally stronger.”
Dodd will not only aim to retain his elite men's title at Alrode but, more importantly, gain the ever-important UCI points on offer that count towards the crucial Olympic qualification process.
"My Rio dreams are still alive!" said Dodd. "After the Rio test event, I have the nationals and then the important continental champs in Zimbabwe in November.
"Then next year there are three SuperCross races before the Worlds, and then the World Champs is the most important race to get into the Olympics."
Dodd said that he was looking forward to the nationals on his familiar home course, which also forms the last leg of the National Age Group Series.
"Obviously I have missed most of NAG series, but I am just looking forward to racing against guys that I haven't raced against for a while," said Dodd.
"It's not going to be easy," he added. "The level of riding has definitely picked up and there will be a lot of good guys coming after me.
Dodd added that he went to bed at night dreaming of his Olympic Games challenge.
"Throughout my recovery that dream has kept me going. If you don't have dreams like that then you might as well not train and ride."
More information on the event can be found at: http://www.cyclingsa.com/2015-sa-bmx-champs/
Entry forms are available at: https://csams.cyclingsa.com/online-entries.aspx?eventid=4546