Cycling South Africa welcomes Kurt Begemann to the volunteer position of Track Commission Director. Kurt has a keen interest in track cycling and was recently welcomed to the team when he was appointed for the position of Junior Track High Performance Manager.
Kurt has always had an interest in Track cycling and in 2016 upon his return to South Africa after being abroad, he noticed that the status of the Olympic discipline was not like he fondly remembered in the 1980s and early 90s, where it was supported by all the top riders in the country from both road and track backgrounds. He felt the calling to get involved in a sport he loves and appreciates so much.
“The discipline itself was being portrayed more like a hobby than the Olympic sport that it is,” said Kurt. “Overseas, people respect the discipline of Track cycling to a very high degree – that needs to happen here again.”
With one of his strengths being working with newer riders, which is what Kurt has been doing professionally for the past 20 years, he has “developed simple and effective ways of teaching newer riders the intricacies of bicycle racing”. He also has a good understanding of where South Africa features as a nation compared to our global counterparts after having attended the previous two UCI Junior Track World Championships and gauging how our riders have fared. For this reason, Kurt will continue in his role as Junior Track High Performance Manager.
“I also enjoy working with the Juniors, because once you pass on knowledge and younger riders apply it, so there is a noticeable rapid rate of progress in a short amount of time,” he said.
When talking about how he envisions the future of the sport in South Africa, Kurt acknowledges that there is a lot of work to be done and will start by prioritising the small things that can be changed immediately.
“In a nut shell, I’d like to see an increase in participation and get more folks back on the track. I will be looking at the cycling clubs to see what they are doing to foster their riders’ participation on the track. The way that events are currently conducted also requires improvement – the folks up at Hector Norris Park (Gauteng) put on a pretty good race programme, but many of our other velodromes need to polish their product,” he continued.
Kurt will also address the need for qualified coaches, as well as adding more race events to the annual calendar – from regional events through to national level while formulating a National Series for Juniors, Elites and Masters.
“Times change, and sport evolves with it. We need to open our minds and take on a new approach and include all the folks currently involved to help improve the sport together. No-one wants to put their name on something that looks like a hobby – they want to put their name on something that looks like professional sport. You have to act like a pro BEFORE you are one. That’s how you get to be one. Put the sport and its sponsors before your own agenda,” he said.
Kurt’s soon-to-be wife, Jeanne, is in full support of the track racing lifestyle – she too was a former Track racer in the US where she was a State Champion in the Team Pursuit and has also accomplished a podium finish in the US Masters Track Cycling Championships. Sadly, a bad crash in the Atlanta Grand Prix forced her to retire from bike racing, but she has remained close to the sport by becoming a Race Official.
We wish you luck in your new role, Kurt!