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Van Dyk looks to up the tempo Down Under

By Mark Etheridge

London Paralympics silver medallist Ernst van Dyk finds himself on the other side of the world in faraway Sydney as his build up to the annual Boston and London Marathons continues to gather momentum.

Van Dyk raced to silver in the men’s H4 handcycle race at Brands Hatch, London last year, only beaten by ex-Formula One racer Alex Zanardi in his custom-made space-age machine.

The Paarl-based Van Dyk is reliving many memories on his trip Down Under as he lines up for the final leg of the Summer Down Under series.

Those memories are the long-ago experience of track racing as well as competing in a road event he last won 10 years ago.

He’ll be in action for two days with a day’s rest in between. Thursday was his first competition. “I raced in the last track event at Homebush tonight. I’ve not raced on the track for over five years so it was rather hard!” Van Dyk told Road to Rio 2016.

“As I’m not ranked on the track I didn’t get into the A 1500m race but won the B race quite comfortably in a good time of 3min 13 sec. The A race was won by Kurt Fearnley in 3min 07sec. Then, just for old kicks, I tried the 800 and got into the final but the speed was not there.

“I finished last but I was right with the group. Last event was the 5000m and I got fourth, 20sec behind the three who were in the final of the London Paralympics. Kurt again won in 10:28 followed by Kota Hokinoue from Japan and Josh Cassidy from Canada. I ‘hit the wall” with three laps to go and lost the leaders but came in at 10:48.”

On to the road event on Saturday and Van Dyk is using this as a key part of his marathon training.

“Tomorrow is an easy day and then on Saturday it’s the big race ÔÇô the Oz Day 10k. I won this race back in 2001 and 2003.

“My reason for coming here is that I’m working toward the Boston and London Marathons which are coming up in April. Having this race now helps me to get some racing in the chair under the belt as I did not do much last year because of my handcycling schedule.

“This will give me a chance to see how Kurt and Josh Cassidy are pushing since they were the top two in Boston last year. I’m under no illusions that I have a lot of work ahead of me looking towards April and racing this early in the season helps with motivation for training early in the season as I have a target to work towards.”

The Boston and London Marathons are a week apart, being raced on 15 and 21 April respectively.


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