Beijing Olympian Sifiso Nhlapo is starting to regain his form ahead of the BMX World Championships in Pietermaritzburg later this year.
Nhlapo has been playing catch-up after his serious neck injury in June last year which saw him sidelined for months on end. He missed the last two rounds of European competition after only being part of the circuit for three of the six months.
So “Skizo” opted to head home where he excelled in the MTN SA National Series and then decided to head west to the United States for some racing experience.
ÔÇ£I was a little disappointed at first but have learnt over my last year after my injury that any situation can be resolved and there is always a solution. I was home for a week which was perfect timing to race the MTN SA National Series and then head out to USA before Worlds. USA will sort me out quickly I think as there are plenty fast riders there.ÔÇØ
That certainly proved to be the case for Skizo. First stop was the ABA Midwest National. Arriving in the states last Wednesday he had to sort his jetlag very quickly as practice started on Friday. The track at Rockford was perfectly prepared, the weather was great and practice was running smoothly until a huge storm swept through the area and cancelled the Friday night Pre-Race.
Saturday saw a hot and humid day in Rockford with the morning starting off with a bit of practice due to the time missed on Friday with the storm and tornado warnings but Sifiso was happy with the track: “it’s fun with a flat start gate, it kinda has an uphill first straightÔÇª just the way I like it!ÔÇØ
After missing a lot of racing over the last two months it was finally time for Nhlapo to put his training and preparation to the test against a deep pool of talented & fast riders like Stromberg, Willoughby, Williers, Marino, Long, KY, Stein, Harris just to name a few. In the first Moto the young South African got a nice “Welcome to the US” in the first turn and finished sixth. With about an hour between Moto’s Skizo knew he had to regroup and his day had been made even harder if he wanted to transfer to the Semi.
But he came up with the goods and won both the second and third Moto to transfer to the semi-final where he got a safe fourth which put him in the main.
In the Main Nhlapo had some bad luck and pulled his cleat out the pedal. He managed to make one pass and finished seventh for the day. “I was happy to be in the main, I had a great pop out the gate the hole day, in the main I blew a pedal and watched the rest of the field pull away into the first turn. The field was really deep and the racing was hard.”
Sunday’s racing started with an early morning wake-up ride at 5.30amfor a little spin before breakfast. Practice was at 7.30am at Nhlapo did a nice little warm up with four easy gates.
Skizo finished first in both Moto One and Two and fourth in the third Moto. “These Moto’s have been like mains and really tough with the line-up of Stromberg, Williers, Marino, Harris & Willoughby. But I am happy with my riding and just need to sort these pedals out as I pulled my cleat out the pedal again in the third Moto.ÔÇØ
Sifiso was in Semi One which he won and transferring with him was Stromberg, Rogers & Marino. In the second Semi of the day Willoughby won and transferring with him was Williers, Long and KY so the boys where in for another stacked Main.
In the main Sifiso had a good gate but coming out Rogers and himself got caught up with some elbows pretty much ending the race right there, Willoughby went on to win ahead Williers and Long.
Skizo summed up the weekend’s racing: ÔÇ£I bombed my gate and bumped elbows straight out the gate with Rogers and lost some momentum. I kept pushing and managed to finish fifth today. Overall I felt good and got some good fast laps in. After all that’s why I came to the USA to bump elbows and get some good laps in before Worlds in South Africa in six weeks. My next race is in Pittsburgh South Park NBL. The track there looks pretty fast and I think it’s a good track to work on track speed and race on. I’m looking forward to a better performance there. Thank you all for your supporting me during this new experience.ÔÇØ