O'Keeffe in London action | SASCOC - SASCOC

O’Keeffe in London action

By Mark Etheridge

BMX cyclist Teagan O’Keeffe is the latest South African to get a chance to test out conditions ahead of the London 2012 Olympics.

Ten days ago it was triathlete Gillian Sanders who raced the course to be used for next year’s Olympics and she revelled, coming home in 23rd place overall in a quality field.

Now it’s KwaZulu-Natal’s O’Keeffe who gets a crack. The 18-year-old won the junior cruiserweight division at the World BMX Championships in Pietermaritzburg last year also took part in the inaugural Youth Olympics in Singapore last year.

This weekend O’Keeffe will be in action in the “London Prepares” series, a Supercross World Cup event, set up by the London 2012 organising committee to test crucial aspects of its operations. A total of 160 elite riders will take on the challenging track, located north of the Olympic Park in Stratford.

The track is roughly 450 metres long and for the first time ever features something called the “Oakley Underground” a 15-metre long tunnel, part of the women’s second straight.

There was a late setback for O’Keeffe ahead of the weekend’s races when she broke her fingers while training at the World Cycling Centre (WCC) in Aigle, Switzerland where she’s based with fellow South African and track ace, Bernard Esterhuizen.

Explained O’Keeffe’s mother Dawn on Tuesday: “She broke the fingers during a training sessionÔǪ the start gate malfunctioned, but “Teagz” has got such a strong mind that her fingers are all taped up and she says she’s feeling strong and good to go.”

Living and training full-time at the WWC with coach Thomas Allier, O’Keeffe’s main goal is the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil but an experience like London this weekend will be invaluable experience. After London she heads home to Pietermaritzburg for a two-week holiday and then heads to the USA with coach Thomas for the next round of racing.

She’s only recently made the step up to Elite women but Dawn says the signs are encouraging. “She is still the baby of the group in the Elite woman but her results have been improving, she has been making the semi-finals in the European rounds and at the world champs in Copenhagen, Denmark she qualified in 19th place so we were really pleased and so is her coach. He says this is just the beginning and her skill level has really improved.”