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Olympian Esterhuizen smashes SA record in Mexico
- Updated: January 21, 2013
Twenty-year-old London 2012 Olympian, Bernard Esterhuizen turned in a scintillating display of sprinting at the UCI Track World Cup event held in Aguascalientes, Mexico this past weekend when he smashed his own national record of 10.234 seconds in the 200-metre sprint qualifying event.
Making full use of the Mexican high altitude conditions he obliterated the old record by 0.448 seconds to record a masterful 9.786 seconds. In so doing, Esterhuizen becomes the first South African rider to break the magical 10-second barrier over 200m. Juan Peralta Gascon of Spain was the fastest qualifier in a time of 9.633 seconds. Kevin Sireau of France holds the World record of 9.572 seconds.
After qualifying in eighth position out of 49 starters (only the fastest 16 riders qualify) Esterhuizen had a tough ride in the first round, narrowly losing to experienced Frenchman Michael D’Almeida who qualified in 9th position. However he won all three of his subsequent rides to win the B final and finish in a credible ninth position overall. Denis Dmitriev of Russia was the overall winner with Max Niederlag of Germany in second and Juan Peralta Gascon of Spain rounding off the placings.
All in all this was an excellent weekend for Esterhuizen as he also finished in a commendable 11th position in the Keirin event after progressing to the second round with ease. These performances show the significant strides Esterhuizen has made since his 11th place in the sprint at the London 2012 Olympics.
He has shown a level of maturity and confidence needed to be competitive in the tough world of track sprinting. Having recently joined with Andy Sparks (who coached him to the Junior 1Km World Time Trial title in 2010) in Mallorca, Spain late December, his progress has been rapid.
With these great performances Esterhuizen should now have qualified for the UCI World Track Championships to be held in Minsk, Belarus from 20-24 February. The UCI will confirm qualifications shortly. With 2012 World Champs scratch race silver medallist, Nolan Hoffman having already qualified for the World champs, South Africa will be well represented in both the endurance and sprint disciplines.