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- SA’s Van Dyk in the Tokyo mix… chasing world record
Du Preez on song with track records and marathon triumph
- Updated: April 23, 2015
By Mark Etheridge
Hard on the heels of new African 400 and 1500-metre track records in the T51 wheelchair division, 2012 Paralympian Pieter du Preez has won the Padova Marathon in Italy.
Quadraplegic Du Preez, is experiencing a great start to the year as he already puts together his plans for Rio 2016.
He finished his second full Ironman competition in December after which he started building up his training base in January again.
At national cycling champs early in February he made sure he just did enough to make the national team as he built up for Nedbank National Championships for the Disabled.
‘I did a couple of low-key races as part of my build into Nedbank national champs and Padova marathon,’ he told Road to Rio 2016. ‘With only the 100m and 400m as T51 events in Rio next year, I made sure my focus would be the 400m at national champs and managed to get a solid time and new African record which holds well for the rest of the year’s events coming up. Getting a new African record (5min 53.01sec) for the 1500m was an unexpected bonus.’
On to Italy and Du Preez, pictured second from right above, says that it was a big focus to try and achieve a personal best challenge the SA T51 marathon. But there were two things standing in his way, a sting in the tail regarding the course, as well as cold and windy conditions on race day.
‘It’s a fast course but you have to be around 3-4 minutes ahead of record schedule when you hit the last 3km to go as this is raced on hectic cobbles. Unfortunately world records don’t come easy and it is not just you that must be in perfect condition but the weather as well. We started in slightly too cool temperatures but the big factor was the wind that picked up and also changed direction the wrong way as the race progressed.
‘I was in real great shape and never gave up but unfortunately it was not to be a PB in the tougher weather conditions. I still managed a brilliant time for us in the T51 class – 2hr 29min racing against a world class T51 field. I had an emphatic victory against the second and third fastest ever T51 marathon athletes in history.
‘So even though I was disappointed at not challenging the records having such a dominant performance speaks for itself and hopefully the stars will align correctly for me at the next marathon.’
Dominance was certainly an apt description as he ended up finishing a full 22 minutes ahead of his next T51 opponent.
Next up for the man they call ‘SupaPiet’ are the IPC World Cup and Grand Prix track events in Switzerland towards the end of May and mid-June. ‘But before that I am a proud ambassador for the Wings for Life World run which is happening on 3 May in Franschhoek so looking forward to having some fun down in Cape Town.’