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Busy period ahead for para-cycling track stars

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While track cyclists are planning for the upcoming 2016 SA Track, Para-cycling and Omnium Championships at the Westbourne Cycling Track in Port Elizabeth between 28 March-3 April, South African para-cyclists Roxy Burns (C3), Dane Wilson (C5) and Juan Odendaal (C3) are gearing up for a bigger event on the global cycling calendar.
The upcoming 2016 UCI Para-cycling Track World Championships, which take place at the Fassa Bortolo Veledrom in Montichiari, Italy from 17-18 March, will offer them the greatest preparation for their National Champs race this season.
Preparations are going particularly well for Odendaal. ‘I’m feeling good, my motivation is sky high and there is a lot of self belief because of Rio 2016,’ he said.
Odendaal says that the team feels a sense that World Champs is their last chance to give it full-gas and the last chance to qualify for the 2016 Rio Paralympics in September.
‘The thought of the Paralympics really helps with my training and mind-set. Going to the Bellville Velodrome for our training camp is going to be super awesome and getting good quality track time in is going to be valuable. It will really help with setting goals and chasing times. Focusing with the team will also help me a lot.’
When asked about the SA National Track Championships, Odendaal said: ‘I’m going to just ride my lungs and legs out of my body. It’s the SA Champs so I want to make the best of it, giving it my all and leaving everything that I have on the track.’
Odendaal says that his level of motivation will not fall after the World Champs as the goals he is chasing are to get under 1min 15sec in the 1km and 4:00 in the 3km. ‘With the elements, anything can happen but I’m pushing myself every day. With the right mind-set anything can happen on the day,’ he said.
Twenty-six-year-old Burns has been working on the technical aspect of her racing, which is an area where she felt that she struggled last year. ‘Last year was a disaster (internationally) so I’m looking forward to putting it behind me with a good performance. I know I can, it must just all come together on the day, but I am very happy with my progress,’ she said.
The team will assemble at the Stellenbosch Academy of Sport in Stellenbosch on Friday. Burns said: ‘I think our focus on Friday will be on the Team Sprint (TS). Since we are from all over the country, we rarely get the opportunity to train together for the TS.
‘In 2011, Team South Africa got a top six position and I think if we train together we can attain that again if not higher. For Rio, we probably won’t have enough riders for a TS, but a top 10 at my last World Champs event would be amazing!’
Burns mentioned that her programme has her peaking (performance-wise) at World Champs, as selection for the 2016 Rio Paralympics is based on the times that will be set in Italy.
Cycling South Africa’s Para-cycling Commission Director, Dr Mike Burns, said: ‘We are making extraordinary arrangements to prepare the team for the World Champs. The riders will assemble in Stellenbosch on Friday and will have some intensive sessions on the Bellville Velodrome, honing their skills for their individual races and for the team sprint. The Stellenbosch Academy of Sport is very generously sponsoring their stay at the Academy.’

Picture of Odendaal courtesy of Craig Dutton


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