MOSSEL BAY SPORT NEWS - While most teenagers were relaxing during the three-week school holiday, Linél Engelbrecht, a Mossel Bay junior athlete, gave an exceptional account of herself in several national championships.
She not only won medals but she also attained the coveted SA Champion title.
Her training programme for these events was cut short after she contracted an upper respiratory infection. And as a result, a critical decision had to be made regarding her fitness to compete, only a day prior to her first competition. Linél competed in the following events:
CSA Youth Cycling Festival
She obtained three gold medals at the CSA Youth Cycling Festival, held in Oudtshoorn on 17 and 18 June.
These two days of hard racing saw her win the 56km Road Race, as part of a team, the 20km Team Time Trial, and finally the Criterium Race, where she lapped the entire field.
Special mention needs to be made of the Eden U17 Time Trial Team of which she was a member.
The team - Breyton Hendriks (Oudtshoorn), Zandre Gerber (George), Oliver Price (Knysna) and Linél (Mossel Bay) - was quickly dubbed the "Dream Team" because of its focus and almost clinical approach to the race. It was also the first time they competed together as team in the time trial discipline. Specific rules are applicable with the most important one being that the team girl has to finish with the group of riders and the time of the 3rd rider over the line is recorded.
The team won gold in the U17 age group, also setting up the 2nd fastest time of the day, only to be bettered by the U19 team from Cape Winelands, comprising several Africa Continental development riders on invitation by CSA.
SA Youth Road Cycling Championships
The SA Youth Road Cycling Championships at Camperdown and Westville KZN (22 and 23 June) saw the top riders in the country compete. Still suffering the effects of the infection, a decision was made for Linél to ride within and not exceeding her threshold limits.
The experience of the two days' racing invaluable. Finishing 6th in both the Individual Time Trial and the Road Race the following day has placed her with the best of the best in SA youth cycling.
SA Duathlon Championships
At the SA Duathlon Championships held in Cape Town - at Killarney International Raceway on 29 June - athletes were greeted on the Saturday morning by a brisk and chilly 35km/h wind, with wet conditions. This was Linél's last event that she would be competing in, having made the decision earlier in the year to part ways with duathlon and triathlon and focus entirely on cycling.
The Super Sprint is an extremely fast-paced race, with athletes running 2.5km, straight into a 10km cycle and then donning their running shoes again for a final 1.25km sprint. The first run saw her struggling with the pace being set and dropping to 9th position, coming into the first transition to the bike. An exceptional transition saw her gain three places and go out on the fantastic Killarney circuit.
Her training in the wind we have experienced in Mossel Bay lately started to show after completion of the first lap of the 3.8km circuit. Moving into 2nd position and challenging the lead girl in the headwind became a mere formality.
She took the lead and started building a comfortable and vital lead, knowing that she was struggling with the run.
Another super-fast transition, the fastest recorded for the day, saw her leave with a lead just under a minute on the chasing girl. Linél held on with a final effort, sprinting over the finish line with a margin of 11 seconds. After being almost three minutes down on the leaders, fighting back to take over the lead and go on to win showed true grit from this exceptional athlete from Curro Mossel Bay, deserved U15 SA Duathlon Super Sprint Champion for 2019.
It's back to training and preparation for the start of the popular and thriving Spur Schools MTB League on 3 August and the Madibaz XCO Series on 4 August. Both these races are being hosted at Oak Hill School in Knysna.
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