‘Skizo’ is back to take on world’s best

2010-07-28 00:00

SIFISO Nhlapo is a name that many people will have heard when he appeared in the finals of the BMX event at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, but crashed out agonisingly and eliminated South Africa’s prospects of winning an Olympic medal.

Nhlapo is back and is set to be a crowd favourite when he competes in the elite men’s category at this weekend’s UCI World BMX Championships at the Royal Showgrounds.

The 2008 World Championship bronze medal winner was at the Liberty Midlands Mall yesterday with fellow rider Dean Holdstock to take part in an autograph signing session that gave members of the public the opportunity to meet the man who had fired the hopes of so many South Africans in Beijing.

Injury forced “Skizo”, as he is known in BMX circles, out of last year’s world championships in Australia, but he is determined to improve on the third-place finish he achieved at the 2008 championships. “I think that the energy of the fans and public is something that I will be able to use to my advantage,” said the racer. “I would really like to improve on that.”

Nhlapo said the appeal of BMX racing is growing in South Africa, but he acknowledged that its development will not be an overnight process.

“I think it’s great to finally have an event like this on home soil. It shows that the sport is growing,” he said.

“But it will take time before it reaches the level of other sports and gets the television coverage of, say, rugby or soccer.”

The Soweto-born 23-year-old, who has raced in Pietermaritzburg on two previous occasions, says he enjoys the hospitality offered by the City of Choice.

“I like the place. The people are friendly and everything is very laid-back,” he said.

“I think it’s a great place to have an event like this.”

Nhlapo will be competing in time trials on Friday.

If he makes it through to the finals, he will compete in the main race on Saturday.

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