Chasing medals with Ernst van Dyk

The Paralympian, wheelchair racing and para-cycling champion took part in the Boston Marathon on Monday, where he came in third.

South Africa's Paralympian, wheelchair racing and para-cycling champion Ernst van Dyk. Picture: Ernst van Dyk/Facebook.

JOHANNESBURG - "21 Boston marathons. Podium number 18. Super stoked with 3rd place today. What a race!" posted South Africa's veteran Paralympian Ernst Van Dyk on Facebook.

The Paralympian, wheelchair racing and para-cycling champion took part in the Boston Marathon on Monday, where he came in third.

The South African has won the Boston Marathon 10 times and has competed 21 times in the historic race.

"After not competing in a marathon since January 2020 due the global pandemic, I lined up for the 125th edition of the Boston marathon today. Was my 21st appearance in this historic race," he posted.

Switzerland's Marcel Hug finished just seconds shy of his own course record to win the Boston Marathon Men's Wheelchair Race for the fifth time on Monday.

Second place went to American Daniel Romanchuk, who won the title in 2019. Romanchuk also won the Chicago Marathon over the weekend.

ATHLETE REPRESENTATION

The South African is also an athlete representative; he is part of a group of six athletes representing a range of sports appointed to the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) athlete’s commission for the next four-year cycle.

The two-time New York City Marathon winner as well as a two-time Los Angeles Marathon winner is serving alongside Godfrey Kgotso Mokoena, Bridgitte Hartley, Sizwe Ndlovu, Jeff Coetzee and Louzanne Coetzee.

“Being an athlete rep is first a huge responsibility because basically, you need to move out of the space of where you are an athlete, in my case, a cyclist or a marathon athlete. And you need to put a hat on where you think much more broadly in terms of the athlete's body of South Africa” he said to Eyewitness News.

Van Dyk said the position needed you to take into consideration the general needs of athletes, support structure and how to make sports more accessible.

“You need to be the voice of the athlete because its Sascoc Commission and high performance is at the top of the list. This means that you need to be the voice of the high-performance athletes in the broad spectrum in South Africa. And convey their needs to the Sascoc board and the decision-makers.”

The two-time world champion and a two-time Paralympic gold medalist represented SA at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics as the defending champion from Rio 2016 in hand cycling and, unfortunately, he did not win a medal and finished his Road Race in 8th place and 9th in the Time Trial.

The athlete, who in 2010 received the Order of Ikhamanga in silver in recognition of his excellence in sport and competed in his first Paralympics in Barcelona in 1992, had stopped para-cycling at a competition level after the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games to concentrate on his career.

“After Rio I decided to take it slow on the cycling side of things up to that point, doing two sports at a world-class level or at international level is quite taxing. I needed to spend some time on my professional career to see where I would be in 15 years or the next 20 years and work on that to secure my future and future income and professional growth.”

He said he didn’t completely stop cycling, he just put competing on hold for four years, and now he was back competing as a cyclist and wheelchair racer.

“I worked very hard on my career for the past four years. I was still cycling three to four times a week, I use cycling as cross-training for my marathon training because it's very beneficial to me. So, I never really stopped training, I just didn’t compete because I wanted to focus my energy on my career and my marathons for a while but the intention was to always make a come back once I had my life sorted out again.”

The world-renowned athlete who medalled for the first time at the 2000 Sydney Paralympics is currently training for his final race of the year, the New York City Marathon in November.

Here’s a list of winners and results from the 2021 Boston Marathon:

Men’s wheelchair:

  1. Marcel Hug (1:18:11)

  2. Daniel Romanchuk (1:25:46)

  3. Ernst Van Dyk (1:28:43)

Women’s wheelchair:

  1. Manuela Schär (1:35:21)

  2. Tatyana McFadden (1:50:20)

  3. Yen Hoang (1:51:25)

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