By Mark Etheridge
Hand-cycling gold medallist Ernst van Dyk paid a painful price for his Paralympian endeavours while finishing second in the wheelchair division of the Berlin Marathon on Sunday.
He’s still suffering from extremely painful thumbnails suffered in the searing heat of Rio during the men’s marathon, the final event of the Paralympics.
‘My thumbnails actually went because my fingers got crushed during the marathon in Rio. My hands got badly swollen because of the 38-Degree conditions we raced in. Inside my gloves my fingers had nowhere to expand so it was like having your thumbs in a vice for 90 minutes,’ Van Dyk explained.
Berlin was always part of his year’s planning and he was duty bound to give his best in Germany.
‘I’ve not Berlin for a long time so it was good to come and check it out again. Marcel Hug pretty much has the Abbot Marathon Majors wrapped up now with four wins but I’ll try to be a contender on the next round, starting with London Marathon next year.’
And Van Dyk says racing Berlin was an important mission for him this time round. ‘Berlin might be very important next year so now I have the intel to prepare for it next year.’
Moving on to the actual race and Van Dyk was well aware of who his main rivals were. ‘That was always going to come from Marcel and the two Japanese racers who are part of the next generation coming out of Japan as they build up towards Tokyo 2020.
‘Initially we were a group of 12 with some early surges. It was pretty clear than everybody was still quite tired after Rio one week prior to that, except for the Japanese guys who weren’t racing in Rio.’
The two Japanese athletes tried to break away but Van Dyk and Hug were able to contain them on a course not cut out for fast times due to the number of winding corners.
‘We later dropped down to seven in the lead bunch and eventually we were just six. As we came up to the Brandenburg Gate one of the Japanese guys made a move which I covered and then I found myself in the front with 250m to go. Not the ideal spot but I had to deal with it so just kept going.
‘With about 100m to go Marcel passed me and took the win and I came in at a close second.’
‘Now I’m back home and the prep starts for Chicago Marathon which is in two weeks.’