South Africa's six Paralympic cyclists are feeling confident ahead of the London Paralympic Games, which begin on Wednesday, 29 August. The very next day, the para-cycling competition starts.
With the UCI Para-cycling 2012 competition season now complete, the cyclists have continued their training in preparation for the Paralympics, with a dual focus on developing their fitness to peak for London and on the technical aspects demanded of the events in which they will compete.
The track cycling pair of Roxy Burns and Jaco Nel recently returned from Mallorca, Spain, having completed the second of their two training camps.
The training venue provided them with an excellent wooden track on which to ride and, importantly, good summer weather. Both riders had been feeling the brunt of the wet winter weather in the Western Cape these past few months.
"The events in which Roxy and Jaco will compete combine several disability classes, with factors applied to each class in order to level the playing fields. There is no doubt that both riders can achieve podium results, although the 'factor' factor does complicate things," said Mike Burns, Cycling South Africa's Director of Para- cycling and the Paralympic Cycling Team Manager.
Hand cyclists Ernst van Dyk and Stuart McCreadie depart on Saturday, 18 August, for Switzerland to take advantage of the beautiful European summer weather and quiet Swiss environment for their final 10 days of training.
They will join up with their Para-cycling teammates the day before the London Paralympics opening ceremony.
"The road team trained and raced in Switzerland about two months ago," said Burns, "and the environment lends itself extremely well to what the hand cyclists need in terms of preparation going into the Paralympic Games."
For tri-cyclists Madre Carinus and Gerhard Viljoen, a hard block of training has been coupled with a particular focus on their tricycle equipment.
"Madre has shed a kilogram or two off the weight of her tricycle by fitting a carbon fork and deep section carbon wheels, whilst Gerhard has been testing a Q- ring front blade to optimise his power output," Burns explained.
The hopes are high that Ernst van Dyk, the 2011 world champion hand cyclist in the road race, will return to South Africa with a potential two medals.
Van Dyk, the recipient of the Laureus World Sports Award for Sportsperson with a Disability for 2006, is a nine-time Boston Marathon champion and won the gold medal in the road race at the 2008 Beijing Paralympic Games.
It is anticipated that a further two medals could be achieved between the remaining athletes.