By Mark Etheridge
Ernst van Dyk is on a roll again… a week ago he was thundering towards a historic 10th Boston Marathon victory and Tuesday see him swopping wheelchair for handcycle and the United States for Italy.
This week sees the first UCI World Cup handcycling competition of this season and will see the resumption of “hostilities” between him and former Formula One racer Alex Zanardi, the man who pipped him for Paralympic gold in the handcycle road race in London two years ago.
Then July will see the second World Cup in Spain and Greenville, US hosts the World Championships. Then its swopping back to the chair as he prepares to defend his Chicago Marathon title in October and on to the New York Marathon in November.
In the week since Boston, Van Dyk has had time to let the victory sink in and says it was a real mixture of emotions on race day.
“At the back of my mind were the explosions of last year and all the emotions were revived during the week with all the activities surrounding the victims.
“Then there was also the fact that I last won Boston in 2010 and there were a lot of people who had written off my chances of making it a 10th.
“And there was also the big relief that all the hard work since last November was worth the while and all the sacrifices weren’t without reward.
“The 10th win was more a personal mission and something I could show myself and the world and it was great to race to the third fastest time of my 22-year career.
“I also knew this year’s race would be a very intensly broadcasted afaair and if there ever was a time for me to prove myself to the South African public this would be it.
Why is the Boston-Van Dyk relationship such a successful and rewarding one? “Well the course really suits me, and the race also comes at at point in the season where I’m real good form at the end of our summer while most of my opponents are coming out of winter.”
Van Dyk also did his bit to help heal the wounds of last year’s bombings. He travels the world doing motivational speeches when he has the opportunity and on this occasion he even took to the wheelchair basketball court.
“I addressed the Boys and Girls Club in south Boston and the basketball game was just to get closer to the kids and give my message more emphasis.”
Looking further up the road and he’s all too aware that the next Paralympics are only two years away and his targets are already in place. “I’ve got three goals for Rio ( two gold medals in the handcycle road race and Time Trial) and then a medal in the wheelchair marathon”.