Paralympian Van Dyk excels

2013-04-29 12:41
Ernst Van Dyk (File)

Johannesburg - After claiming a silver medal in the recent Boston Marathon, Paralympic hand cyclist Ernst Van Dyk, followed his performance with a bronze medal in the London Marathon less than a week later.

"These two marathons have always been back-to-back so to win medals in both events, just six days apart, was quite an achievement," Van Dyk said on his return to South Africa.

"For the London Paralympics, I focused on cycling but during the Beijing Paralympics, I won a gold medal in the cycling road race and a bronze medal in the wheelchair marathon. I was the only athlete to medal in the two different sporting codes."

Van Dyk, who won a silver medal in the London 2012 Paralympic road race, had claimed podium finishes in both road cycling and the athletics discipline of wheelchair racing.

He won nine Boston Marathons, and had been racing in both the Boston and London events since 1999.

After 14 years at the helm of wheelchair racing in those two marathons alone, Van Dyk had proved his ability to compete in both the athletic and cycling disciplines at a very high level over a sustained period.

According to Van Dyk, the two sports - hand cycling and wheelchair racing - were much the same in terms of tactics.

"I'm one of the very few athletes doing both disciplines. I think there are only two of us," he said.

"The big difference is that in wheelchair racing we don't have a crank, chain or gears. So physically, it's very pure."

Van Dyk was fortunate to return home unscathed after the bomb attacks at the end this year's Boston Marathon.

"Initially we heard the first explosion. Nobody was sure what it was. I thought it might be premature fireworks and everyone ran to the window of the hotel where we were celebrating the end of the race.

"As we stared out, the second explosion occurred right in front of our window. It was an incredible blast and people got badly hurt. I couldn't imagine who would do such a thing. The Boston Marathon has so much history. And they didn't attack the runners, it was targeted at the families supporting the athletes."

Read more on:    ernst van dyk  |  cycling

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