The name “Supa Piet” is far from foreign when it comes to the sports of Para-cycling, athletics and Ironman triathlons. Ironman’s first quadriplegic contestant, Paralympian, and multiple Para-cycling World Champion, Pieter du Preez, who has made waves all over the world, continues to ride them high as he heads to Pietermaritzburg to compete in the 2015 UCI Para-cycling Road World Cup from 11-13 September.
Du Preez, who became a C6 quadriplegic after an accident at the age of 23, has continued to push himself to the greatest physical limits more now than ever before.
The H1 Para-cycling World Champion is happy ahead of the World Cup, especially one that’s in his own backyard. “It’s one thing competing on home soil. The fact that I’ll be doing it in the rainbow jersey is just an added bonus and an indescribable feeling,” he said.
“I’m feeling good. My form is okay, so I’m feeling confident. Due to the events following the World Cup, I need to focus on the [wheel] chair quite a bit as well because I want to break the record. Having said that, there is also pressure on me at home in the rainbow jersey to do well as well,” he added.
Du Preez chats about the importance of Africa hosting a World Cup: “The locals get to see what goes on and what Para-cycling is all about. It’s super for the exposure of the sport in Africa and for the cyclists in the other African countries. The athletes then also get exposed to these big events and are able to compete independently against some of the world’s greatest. This provides for them the motivation that they need in order to be able to aim to compete professionally as a career.
“Pietermaritzburg is Africa’s Bike City. It’s also closer for some African countries to travel to, and thus, cheaper. This way we should be seeing more and more entries from African countries, which is great. It plants a seed. It’s an eye-opener for them and for the world.”
The openness of Para-cyclists and the all-round nature of these athletes is something that Du Preez has stressed. “One thing about the Para-athletes is that nothing is ever too much of an effort when it comes to helping others out. We are all pretty easy-going people and really try our best to help the newcomers, from lending advice on day-to-day stuff to the correct type and use of the different equipment,” he said.
With three months until the end of the year, there is still no slowing down for Du Preez. He heads to Berlin at the end of the month for the Berlin Marathon where he hopes to take a fourth win in a row and break the World Record. After Berlin, Du Preez will compete in a wheelchair marathon in Japan and wishes to compete in another Ironman in December.
“It’s a long shot, but we’ll see,” he said. “I feel that this has been my best year yet, with seven African records and one world record at the Athletics World Champs (sprint). So it [Ironman] would end my year off well,” he concluded.
The 2015 UCI Para-cycling Road World Cup – Pietermaritzburg (11-13 September 2015) will have two competition venues with the time trial competition being staged in the Midmar Dam complex on Friday 11 September and the road races in the city of Pietermaritzburg using Alexandra Park as the official competition venue on Saturday 12 and Sunday 13 September. For more information, visit: http://www.cyclingsa.com/2015-uci-para-road-world-cup/.