South African Track Para-cyclists recently experienced an amazing opportunity when they attended a UCI Para-cycling Track Training Camp at the World Cycling Centre (WCC) Velodrome in Aigle, Switzerland last month.
Roxy Burns (C3) and Juan Odendaal (C3) flew to the country to take part in the close to two-week training camp, with over 18 athletes from eight different countries and two professional coaches. The riders endured rigorous sessions in the gym on Wattbikes, as well as sessions on the track and road.
The programme was the second of two successful training camps this year. In a recent story publsihed on the UCI website, UCI Para-cycling Coordinator Christopher Bifrare said that the UCI is planning to host two more training camps in the pre-Paralympic season next year: one focused on Track, the other on Road cycling.*
“Wow, what an experience,” said Burns (26). “We stayed two to three kilometres from the WCC, which was quite close. We were collected from the airport by the UCI, dropped off our belongings and then headed to the centre to build our bikes. We were able to ride back from the centre when we had finished.
“It was great just being on a wooden track with three or four people focusing on technique and doing official timing, and there was an awesome 40km cycle track along the river for the road rides.”
Burns mentioned that a group of cyclists also took a day out to cycle to France and she described the experience as an unforgettable one. “The whole experience was incredible, and I’m so grateful to Cycling SA for putting forward the proposal,” she concluded.
“It was such an incredible experience,” says Odendaal (19). “Being at the WCC is any kid’s dream. The velodrome is super fast so I enjoyed it a lot.”
On the direct results of the training, Odendaal said: “The training helped me with my technique at the start. A different holding position on the handlebars gave me more momentum at the start. The coach (Steve) also told me to keep my elbows in when on the sprint bars so that I was more aerodynamic. The coaches also placed heavy focus on acceleration and training with track sessions in the morning and road in the afternoon. This was, I feel, a great combination.
“I think I benefited a lot because in Manchester, in the International Para-cycling event, I knocked five seconds off my time in the 1km event, setting a personal best. In the Individual Pursuit (3km), I knocked 12 seconds off for a personal best, which was quite a surprise to me. So I really think the track training camp helped me to achieve my very best.”
Odendaal was grateful and delighted about the connections and friendships that he had made. “We all got along so well, because we’re all physically challenged so we all understand each other’s circumstances. Everybody was so friendly. That is what’s great about sport – it brings people together. We all have goals that we want to achieve,” he concluded.
*Read the full story from the UCI here: http://www.uci.ch/wcc/news/article/uci-world-cycling-centre-hosts-second-para-cycling-camp-year/