By Mark Etheridge
Not even a Paralympic record in his track cycling class could get Jaco Nel on to the podium here on Thursday.
Racing the men’s one kilometre time trial (Class C1-3), Nel clocked 1min 12.405sec for the four circuits of the steeply banked track at the Olympic velodrome.
His actual time was just over 1min 18sec but because three classes are racing each other riders’ times are factored in to a uniform standard.
The Beaufort West riders’ final time saw him ending 11th in a race won by China’s Zhang Yu Li in a world record 1:05.021.
“If it were just C2 riders competing he would have won gold today,” said Team SA cycling manager Mike Burns, “but unfortunately it doesn’t work that way.”
Nel though was happy with his ride, I was looking to ride about 1:16 [before time factoring] but a Paralympic record is still great,” he said.
“I’ve been working on my starts a lot lately and I could feel I got out fast today.”
Nel was left disabled after being badly assaulted a few years back and left with brain stem damage.
“For me the last 500m is the most difficult. I start loosing control of my upper body over the last 500m and have to battle to just stay on.”
Too big for the road events as well as the pursuit events, this was 35-year-old Nel’s best crack at a medal but he will still turn out in the pursuit/road race and time trial events later in the competition.