Juan Odendaal is hoping for a top-10 finish when he competes for the South African team at the UCI Para-Cycling Road World Cup in Italy this week.
The 22-year-old, who won gold in the Para C3 individual pursuit at the national para-cycling champs in Cape Town this year, will compete in the 27km time trial on Friday and the 64km road race on Sunday in Corridonia.
“I aim to go hard in the time trial, because it’s a mental game.
“During the road race I plan to stay in the wheels and go with the right moves when the opportunity arises,” Odendaal said.
He added that it would mean the world to him to win a medal, especially because of the self-funding challenges they had to overcome.
“I want to make a difference in para-cycling in the country, so that’s my motivation and I’m going at it step by step.”
Odendaal, who is ranked 13th in the world for C3 track para-cycling, said it was a great feeling to wear the national kit.
“It’s what we work for. I’m excited to race for SA in Italy. The country is beautiful and the course suits me.
“I’m feeling confident. I know I did what I could training wise and I’m trusting God’s plan now.”
He felt it was important to realise that para-cyclists were like able-bodied athletes and faced similar physical and mental challenges.
“One way for me to get into the zone before race day is to meditate and calm myself.”