Track Nationals and Malaysia
Track nationals was the best champs I have ridden to date. It was probably the champs that I felt most prepared for. In fact, I was stressing, because it was too perfect! Every year for the past 5 years some misfortune struck me. From crashing a week before champs, to being sick as a dog... and oh yes, don't forget the Dentist visit for a root canal 5 days before Champs.
So in my heart I was saying my thanks to God, but somewhere tucked away in my brain, I was going... "when will what happen?"
I kept extremely positive and everything ran smoothly with no incidents.
I arrived in Durban two days before, to get on the track and test the speed. I'm one of those athletes that is really "in tune" with my body. I know when I will have a average day, and I know when I will have a good day. Well, a day before champs I was doing a short motor pace speed session (thanks Hannes vd Walt) and I felt like I could take on Laura Trott and beat her! I was extremely happy and very positive for Nationals.
The morning of champs, I started feeling the nerves. I knew I had a hectic 1st day as I was doing sprinting events and endurance events. Normally a sprinter won't do the endurance events at Nationals, and vice versa, but reality for me is, if I want to compete overseas in a endurance event, I need to beat the sprinters here in SA! That is how much of a gap it is between SA and the rest of the world. So it forces me to train my explosive power and speed.
Most of the nerves subsided when my coach, Boyd Roberts arrived. He flew in on the morning and I thought I would only see him after the sprint. With a lot of calming, and self-believe talk, I was off.
First up was the 200m qualifier. I qualified 2nd with a pretty good time. It was then a whole morning of semi-final sprints before qualifying for the Pursuit. The pursuit was really important for me as I have been working quite closely with Boyd in improving my time. I started out hating the pursuit, but actually lately, I have learned to love it. It's like a LOVE-HATE relationship, haha! (don't tell my Coach.)
I qualified 1st in the pursuit. Luckily I went last, so Boyd could work out a schedule for me to save as much energy as I could for the sprint final and pursuit final which were 15 minutes apart.
The sprint final was going to be a tough one. Up against Annerine Wenhold, a multiple World veteran Champion. She qualified 1st with the fastest time for this event.
On the track, and all I could think about is, if I lose the first sprint, it's probably game over for me. To rinse and repeat: 3 Sprints with a pursuit thrown in the mix, is almost impossible. So I just had to win..... and so I did!
After the sprint, Boyd and I had a conversation and decided to ride the "man" and not a time in the pursuit final to save something for the next sprint against Annerine. I rode the pursuit final against Ilze Bole, a multiple pursuit champ.
I started the race off at a easy pace, just looking at my coach to see if I was schedule with Ilze. At one point he told me to pick it up a bit, oblivious to what's going on around me, I picked it up. All of sudden two laps later he said, "relax, and keep a rhythm". The next lap I started seeing Ilze in the same straight. At that stage it was hurting a bit and I couldn't be happier to cross the finish line first. When I came off the track, Boyd told me that she was in the same straight as me, trying to go for a catch from the gun (if you catch a rider in the final, the race is over).
I was really thankful that he kept a cool head, and paced me so well to a win.
For the second sprint coming up, I can't lie, I was hurting. One thing I wasn't going to do was surrender. On the line, and I was positive! Felt like I just closed my eyes for the entire race, and when I opened it, I WON!!!!
The rest of the Champs was awesome, I particularly wanted to share the first day in detail with you because it was really special to have won the Sprint and Pursuit on that difficult program. In total I won 8 Golds and a Silver. Two of the Golds were won in the Western Cape team. The Team Pursuit, and the Team sprint. Team Pursuit consisted of myself, Bronwyn Abrahams, Myrtle Hagendorn and Debbie Loffel-Dawson. The Team Sprint consisted of myself and Myrtle Hagendorn.
All glory to God for making this my most successful SA track Champs to date.
The Champs ended on not such a high note as my other half, Theuns van der Bank, crashed out of the Madison. So we had our "after party" in the Hospital. Luckily nothing broken, just some serious skin lost, and stitches.
The Monday morning after champs, I got a phone call to tell me that I have been chosen for the SA team to compete in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
It is the South East Asian Grand Prix series held over 7 days. 2 days of racing, then 1 day off, another day of racing, then 1 day off, then again 2 days of racing. Totalling 5 days of racing.
"The only catch is that we're leaving in two days," the selector told me. I was definitely not going to let this opportunity pass me by.
What made it more special, once again, was that Theuns was also selected for the SA team.
Malaysia was amazing: the country, the people, the organisation of the SA team, EVERYTHING was perfect.
I didn't know what to expect from my competition, and to top it all off, my first event was a Omnium. I have never raced an Omnium before (on any standard, and now I have to race it on a world level). Nerves was running high!! I know I'm a very good all rounder, so I was quite confident that I would be consistent through the six events.
My results for the Omnium: 2nd place in Flying lap, 3rd place in the Points race, 3rd place in the Elimanation race, 4th place in the Individual Pursuit, 3rd place in the Scratch and 3rd place in the 500m. Placing me 3rd for the Omnium.
The second GP racing should have had a Points race and a Scratch race, however the Scratch got rained out. I got a 3rd in the points... By this time, I'd just about had it with 3rd place. The day was special for the "Saffas". The men's team won GOLD in the team Pursuit. It was brilliant to watch!
The last leg of the GP series started the Thursday for the last two days of racing.
Second Omnium coming up... I didn't want this racing to end, it was just such an awesome experience and learning curve for me.
My results for the Second Omnium was: 2nd in the flying lap, 3rd in the Points race, 2nd in the Elimination race, 3rd in the Individual Pursuit, 2nd in the Scratch race and 1st in the 500mTT, placing me 2nd in the Omnium. I was ecstatic with my 500m win. I took a gamble and I put on TT bars. I have never raced a 500m with TT bars. I saw with the previous Omnium the top Ladies ride with TT bars. Some say, it helps, some say it is too short for bars, but I figured since it is a open track, I'll try it out. I was delighted with the end result.
Since getting back from Malaysia, it was a bit hard staying motivated to train without really knowing if I would be included in the Commonwealth Games team. The team got announced last week, unfortunately I didn't make the team, although I'm extremely happy for Theuns who got selected. He also formed part of the Team that won Gold in Malaysia earning them enough points to meet SASCOC's qualifying criteria.
What next? Well, I was hoping to go to T-Town again, like I did last year.
Unfortunately funding is a massive issue at the moment, so unless a Miracle happens within the next couple of weeks, I will also be skipping America.
Financial support is really hard to find these days. Please feel free to contact me if you have a company who want to get involved in Sponsorship.
Thanks to everyone for their support, whether it is financial, or emotional, I really appreciate it so much! Thanks to Intellibus who I can proudly wear when I race, thank you very much for all the support.
Thanks to Boyd Roberts from Servizio Corse Coaching for helping me achieve my goals, one by one.