Mario Nell, a former South African professional track cyclist who won gold in the World Masters Games scratch race in 2009, has extended his condolences following the death of Garen Bloch.
Bloch, 39, died tragically in a motorbike accident in Johannesburg on Saturday night.
Bloch was a legend of SA track cycling, having represented the country at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games. At his peak he climbed to third in the world rankings.
Nell knew Bloch personally and said he often competed with Bloch’s older brother Sean, who now lives and competes in track cycling in Sydney, Australia.
Nell, from Port Elizabeth, had fond memories of Bloch. “He was a very humble guy, he never looked for any trouble and he always just tried to help everybody where he could,” he told In the Bunch today.
“When racing he never tried to look for the wrong ways to win. He was one of those guys who put in the hard yards and tried to win the right way.
“Whatever he did, he did it all out. He was a good person and he is definitely going to be missed.
“It is really sad to lose a guy his age who still had his whole life ahead of him” Nell added.
He described Bloch as having been a very “fierce cyclist”. “He was one of South Africa’s top track cyclists; probably one of the top five track cyclists the country’s ever had.
“He held the SA 4000m pursuit record for a long time. He was very talented.”
Johnny Koen of Velotex, a prominent track cyclist from the 1980s who was a friend of the Bloch family for close to 30 years, said he was deeply saddened by the news.
“In the mid-1980s the Bloch family began importing bikes and other branding items to South Africa and I was blessed, at that point, to be their representatives.
“I became very close friends with the family and I even went to Garen’s Bar Mitzvah.
“I remember Garen particularly as a very classy time-trialist and individual pursuit rider. He excelled in the 4000m pursuit and he was certainly a very interesting rider.
“It is a pity he did not have a longer and hugely successful career. My most sincere condolences are extended to the whole family: his father Mervyn, mother Sandra and uncles Selwyn and Bradley.
“It is a very sad moment that he had to leave us after so many years of knowing him,” Koen added.
After beating drug and alcohol addiction in June 2015, Bloch entered the Meteffect Recovery Centre in Polokwane, where he later became a counsellor. He also was an avid martial arts exponent and motorcyclist.