Paralympian Van Dyk reflects on his two marathon medals | SASCOC - SASCOC

Paralympian Van Dyk reflects on his two marathon medals

By Mark Etheridge

Paralympian Ernst van Dyk is back in sunny South Africa after two wheelchair marathons in the space of less than a week.

He returns with two podium finishes, at the Boston and London Marathons.

Recently turned 40, the London Olympics silver medallist in the hand-cycle event, took silver in Boston last Monday and third in London on Sunday.

“Chasing Japan’s Hiroyuki Yamamoto for 42km in Boston made me discover things about myself I didn’t remember or did not know,” he told Road to Rio 2016. “Coming second was a great result form my sixth position in 2012. It was a good day.”

But it didn’t end off as a good day as two explosions rocked the finish of the event, with three people killed.

“The horrific events that unfolded will haunt many of us forever. I won’t go into all of that but my heart and thoughts are with those on the journey to recovery.”

Moving trans-Atlantic to the London Marathon and it was a tale of two races for Van Dyk, pictured (centre) in David Burdus’ picture.

“Whereas the course in Boston has always suited, and in a way favoured me, London is the exact opposite! But after Boston I had a conservative level of confidence and I actually went into the race with a plan ÔÇô something I had not done for long time. Not all plans are perfect but for most of it, it went ‘according to plan’.

“There were a lot of moves going on and defending champion David Weir had to cover a lot of them. In the end this perhaps cost him the win. I attacked when I thought it was appropriate and other times I was chasing down some vicious attacks. Slowly the group went from 15, to 12 to later 9 and then to 8.

There was also drama at the London race.

“It was very unfortunate that a former winner of this race, Josh Cassidy collided with an elite female runner and it took them both out of the race. We have warned the organisers about this countless times and there is a reason why we always start the wheelchair race first… exactly this reason!! Please learn from it.”

That elite runner was Olympic Marathon champion Tiki Gelana of Ethiopia and both her and Canadian Cassidy failed to finish the race.

“With 2km to go there were eight of us left and the pace slowed as we jockeyed for position. I had the perfect wheel, right behind Kurt Fearnly [eventual winner]. But on the second last turn another racer over steered and I lost my position. Coming out of that final corner I was way back in the group and it took a tremendous effort from me to get out of the mess and go for a podium finish…and a close one it was.

“We all wore black ribbons for Boston. And next year I look forward to coming back to London and then moving on to Boston to meet up with all my friends in Boston and going for that elusive 10th win.”

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