“The African Continental Champs held in Cairo in January, where I won two golds (madison and team pursuit) and two silvers (omnium and individual pursuit), was good preparation towards these omnium champs.
“It was my goal to do well [this weekend] in all four disciplines of the omnium to achieve the title of 2020 omnium champion,” said the 21-year-old, who placed second in the scratch and won the tempo, elimination and points, where she lapped the field.
Van Niekerk said in the first event, the scratch, she timed her sprint too early, which resulted in her narrowly missing out on the line.
“In the tempo, besides the first one, I took every sprint. With the third event being the elimination I went in with different tactics than usual and it paid off with a win.
“The last event was the points race, which is my strongest event. I made sure to take points early on in the race and halfway through I found the opportunity to break away and managed to take a lap on the whole field.
“In the end I won all the sprints respectively, except the very last one.
“Claudia Gnudi and Ilze Bole were my strongest competition and we had a good tussle, especially earlier in the scratch and elimination.” Gnudi finished second overall, with Bole third.
Van Niekerk said she had been selected for the World Track Championships in Berlin, which unfortunately coincided with the omnium. This left some uncertainty till the last minute as to whether she would participate in the omnium.
“I was very proud to be selected to represent South Africa in the World Championships where I had qualified on points but missed out on not having participated in a World Cup in order to qualify prior to the event.”
The Johannesburg resident added that she had been working extremely hard alongside her coach Bob Biese to be ready for national champs later this month.
“This is an important stepping stone to prepare me for more international races in the year ahead.
“I’m extremely happy with my progress over the last year,” said Van Niekerk, who races for Gumtree Racebike.