The first leg of the 2016 UCI Para-cycling Road World Cup takes place this year in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, from 7-8 May. 2016 Laureus Awards Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability Nominee, Pieter “Supapiet” du Preez, is currently taking part in athletics races in Europe before attending the Awards ceremony in Berlin on 19 April.
Du Preez is feeling good ahead of his season, and talks about focus, balance and the importance of hosting the UCI Para-cycling Road World Cup in South Africa.
“Supapiet” has for the past three years been an ambassador for the Wings For Life World Run, a fund-raising event for spinal-cord injury research, which takes place this year on 8 May. It is for this reason that he will only be taking part in the World Cup Time Trial event on 7 May. “I’m still looking forward to the Time Trial, I’ll be in fairly good shape and it will be interesting to see what happens on the day,” he said.
Travel, cycling, athletics, and work, all require time and energy, and the double World Champion shared his secrets on how to balance it all: “For me, doing all three sporting disciplines of swimming, cycling and running has been a lifestyle and a way of training over the last couple of years. They sort of really help each other out so, I think because I’ve been doing it for so long, my coach and I have learned how to make it work. Pushing the travel in in between does make things a bit harder but you do learn how to travel over the years, and learn how to sleep on the plane. I think it’s really just a case of how you manage your time – doing all of that and working at the same time.”
Du Preez mentioned that this year, his H1 hand-cycling category event is not included in the Paralympic calendar, and for this reason his major focus is on being selected for the Rio Paralympic team for Athletics. “So I’m actually training a little bit more than I would’ve planned for this year, but nevertheless, things are going well, my form is looking good, and I’m really excited for what the season holds. So let’s see what happens,” he said.
On hosting the first leg of the Para-cycling Road World Cup on home soil, Du Preez said: “Having the first World Cup in South Africa, I must say, whether first or last or any time of the year, is just amazing. For us as athletes, to race in your own home country is always an honour and a pleasure. Also once again for the athletes who can come and compete as independents and get an opportunity to get the experience of a World Cup and get valuable information from all the other athletes racing in the race. For me that’s the great part about it.
“More importantly, it counts for double UCI points for Paralympic qualification so for the guys in the Paralympic squad, it’s very important to get your rankings as high as possible so that you get a very good starting slot in the Time Trial. Not having to travel overseas and being able to perform at your best is just the absolute drawing card for all of us here, so yip it’s incredible to race at home.”
Du Preez revealed how great the honour is to be part of the National Team yet because the event is early in the season, some riders may be focused on the preparation for Rio and have a different plan approaching the World Cup. “In terms of the new guys, this is definitely a huge opportunity to put up their hands and show what they can do. I hope that they go out and just do it. Hopefully we will see a lot of medals for South Africa at this World Cup,” he said.
Having the exposure of a Para-cycling Road World Cup in South Africa, Du Preez is well aware of the awareness and visibility of the sport created in the country. “And obviously to the locals in Pietermaritzburg, it’s of huge importance to the growth of our sport. It’s an absolute privilege that we can host the event this year again. And also the World Champs next year, which is going to create even greater awareness of the sport of Para-cycling, so it’s very exciting for us,” he concluded.