By Mark Etheridge
National cycling ace Charlene du Preez had a roller coaster ride at the recent national championships at the Bellvllle Velodrome in the Western Cape.
All set to relocate to England to further her track career with a view to qualifying for the 2020 Olympics, she had to cut short her championships due to a family bereavement, which meant an earlier and unexpected trip back to Pretoria.
That meant she missed the Omnium and the last two days of competition.
But she still left her mark on the championships and there was some additional baggage in the shape of medals that would have alerted the metal detectors at local airports!
She was in action for five events during her curtailed week and she started with a bang. ‘I started off with the Individual Pursuit, my favourite event.
‘I don’t actually know why it’s my favourite but I got the SA title for the IP last year and it’s a special title to have, so I wanted to keep it of course.
‘My recent personal best at Gauteng Provincials was a 4min 07sec, so I was hoping to at least go down a bit for SA’s. When I started the IP at SA’s everything just went so perfectly smoothly from the start, the Bellville velodrome is an amazing track with fast corners and no wind.
‘I’ve not been training on a schedule so there was no use trying to race with one, I decided to just go with the feel of it. To my surprise, I finished in a time of 3:59.33 – finally breaking that 4min barrier and I was stoked. Bernette Beyers finished in a time of 4:00.13 so that was a close one!
‘I’m really looking forward at spending more time on my pursuit training to see what I’m really capable of.’
Then it was on to the points race which feature a strong field of elite women’s racers. ‘The competition was really on! I finished second in the Points, also finished second in the scratch.
‘I still feel that I might have done too much work in the scratch race and I had a few “watchers” that liked the view of my rear wheel, but, it was nice and hard and hopefully something more exciting for the spectators.’
There were a few technical problems in the 500m TT which hampered Du Preez and she could only take bronze in this event.
Her last race became the Team Sprint with Beyers. ‘It was an honour riding it with her, very happy with our win, from the start to the finish went smoothly.’
And then her championships came to that unforeseen conclusion. ‘It’s sad to miss out on the Omnium this year but I’ll be back with a bang, that’s a promise.’
‘I must also say I’m so proud to be associated with Clover, who are backing and supporting me all the way and help turning my dreams to reality. I see an exciting road ahead!’
Picture of Du Preez in nationals action courtesy of DoubleST