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  Bernette Beyers Blog: 2016 South African Track Championships  
  May 10th By Bernette Beyers  
  2016 National Championship success. Source: Bernette Beyers Instagram  
  South Africa may not be a nation known for track cycling but in 24 year old Bernette Beyers they have a future star in the making. Currently ranked 62nd in the world and having only taken up the sport two years ago, she is currently training at the UCI's World Cycling Centre in Aigle, Switzerland, for the second time. After her first taste of international competition at the Revolution Series in Great Britain last year, Beyers can now call herself a four time South African Champion, having dominated the 2016 Championships with gold in the sprint, keirin, 500m time trial and team sprint.

On a break from training in Aigle, Beyers penned a blog on the South African Track Championships as she looks ahead to the 2016/17 season and her dream of competing against the best in the world.

This is my blog about my South African National Track championships where I manage to win all the big sprint events, the elite ladies sprint, kierin, 500m time trial and team sprint.

The event took place in the windy city of Port Elizabeth, with a 500m open track, so you can imagine all the issues this brings up with a multi day event. My coach, Peter Lambert and I drove up by car, which was roughly 800km from Stellenbosch, my hometown.

Arriving in Port Elizabeth we were greeted with strong gusty winds, which makes you unmotivated and negative for the upcoming week, coming from an indoor 250m track back home.

On the first day we had the ladies sprint, after debating with myself for about an hour with what gear I'm going with to battle against the wind, I finally come to a conclusion. With the fastest qualifying time and sprinting into a strong headwind PB's were the least of my worries for the day. Match sprints started right after and I made it to the finals, against the defending champion, Maroesjka Matthee (while going against her, I kept getting flashbacks from the previous year were she kicked over me like I was in reverse gear) but this time I was ready... Winning the sprint I was on top of my game and gave me more confidence for the week ahead.

Then it was the 500m time trial, which was one of my main objectives last year, and though that headwind into the back straight threw me all over the track, I still won it comfortably. On the same day Maroesjka Matthee and I raced the team sprint together, she did the first lap and I the second. We had a good starts, considering we only trained it once, seeing Maroesjka's facial expressions on the start next too me (after asking her to go to a bigger gear 30min before the race) gave me a smile when we started.

Knowing she gave everything to get the gear on the role, which delivered me on a comfortable speed after 250m, next time she can go much bigger with her gear haha! After she delivered me I gave it everything, as I wanted us to be on top of the podium. To my delight we broke the National Record and came first. It was so unexpected, just showing you we make a mean team. Considering it being an open 500m track with bad weather conditions, I couldn't have ended the day better.

My last event was the ladies kierin, lying awake the night before trying to figure out a few strategies. I decided picking up the speed when the motorbike goes off and jumping early... More then a lap to go, 600m of pure power I had to bring on this sprint. A lot of things was counting against me, having the wind from the back when jumping and attacking the wind straight from the front after the second banking and wondering who is going to react on my attack. Going up on the banking before the jump, I could feel the wind throwing my five spoke and disc and decided I have to attack if I want too stay on my bike. Jumping down from the banking I could see from the side that I was not the only one attacking. Maroesjka Matthee and Charlene Du Preez were also attacking.

I decided not to sit on their wheel, as I approached the girls with good speed I took my advantage from the wind behind to pick up enough speed passing them on the banking and making a massive gap between me and the two girls in the headwind, not looking back until I reached the line. I made it! I came first not thinking much I wished I could just fall down and land on something soft as it felt like I left my legs on the last banking towards the finish line, it felt I could pass out afterwards! The lactic in my legs went up to my eyeballs, just unbearable and it took me at least five minutes before I could walk or talk... This was a great race to watch with a lot of excitement.

This was for me a very exciting experience and event I would never forget. It all came to a very quick end and no real big celebrations, as I had to drive back to Cape Town because my flight was booked for Switzerland to start my season training and racing at the UCI's World Cycling Centre.

So if you see a South African girl racing on wooden tracks on the UCI calendar, it is most likely me, hanging on for dear life!
 © 2016