Cycling South Africa has appointed Kurt Begemann to the volunteer position of Junior Track High Performance Manager. With a keen interest in the sport having competed since the age of 12 and currently qualified as a Level 2 Cycling Coach, Begemann has covered most spectrums of competitive cycling and is ready to pass his experience on to our Junior riders on the track.
Kurt’s early years were on the BMX track before he switched to road racing eight years later. Much like track cycling, BMX is fun and develops a solid foundation for bike handling skills in a safe environment – an ideal platform to teach the youth the fundamentals of skills when they’re still fearless.
He left Africa in 1994 and raced primarily in the United States and occasionally in Europe for two decades, where he mentored and coached younger riders as well. “I became involved with coaching and running race programmes at a variety of velodromes in the United States and took several age group athletes (juniors and masters) to National and World Championship level,” he said.
With his roots deep in cycling as a former competitive cyclist, Kurt firmly believes that track cycling is the ideal discipline to learn the craft of bicycle racing. The craft of bike racing is discovered a lot quicker on the track and for a coach, Kurt finds this most rewarding.
“A rider like Stefan de Bod has just won the Under 23 version of Strada Bianchi in Italy. He was an excellent track rider as a junior and learned his craft of bike racing on the banked oval. Working with kids like that and watching them go all the way, is very rewarding,” explained Kurt.
From his vast experience of racing at international level during his career, Kurt has been exposed to the reality of the high level of competition in Europe and the United States and in most cases, the performance gap to bridge for southern African cyclists.
“My objective is to raise the standard so that the jump between South African Junior Track Cycling and overseas racing, is not as vast as it currently is. We can do this by creating more racing events, developing time standards that determine whether or not we are in fact worthy of competing at the international standard, and by grounding our riders so they go into International Competition with a more realistic sense of who and where they are in the sport.”
Kurt’s cycling experience includes 20 years of professional coaching as well as working with USA Cycling as one of their U23 Talent Identification Coaches since 2005; while running his own private coaching company, training more than 20 athletes. Acutely aware of the evolving cycling landscape in South Africa, Kurt is determined to be part of the positive change and play a part in growing the sport.
“If we want to improve on our past performances, then we need to keep abreast of what the international cycling leaders are doing and adopt new and fresh training approaches. Get focussed and get disciplined. We can do it, it's just a matter of finding the right people who are open minded and 100% committed.”