Nhlapo is without doubt the big name in the national squad and the country’s big hope to grab a gold medal in the blue riband Men’s Elite category.
Skizo, as he is known, proved in 2008 that he had what it takes to compete with the world’s best when he enjoyed a superb season, producing some stellar performances in Europe before grabbing the bronze medal at the World Championships and then seventh in the final at the Olympics when a crash robbed him of a medal chance.
At the most recent World Cup event in Copenhagen Skizo claimed a place in the semi-finals to prove that he preparations for World Championships are on course, Backing Nhlapo from the South African team in the Elite category will be Dean Holdstuck, who was less than a second from qualifying after his time trials in Copenhagen, the US based Gavin Lubbe who was less than one tenth of a second from qualifying in the season’s opening World Cup event in Madrid, Kane Herbert and Jordan O’Keefe.
In the Junior Elite class Teagan O’Keefe is hoping for big things. The petite youngster is currently training in Switzerland and the tough six-hour-a-day schedule at paying dividends and she could be a dark horse for a gold medal in her category.
Other riders who are currently overseas to prepare for the World Champs include the Webster brothers Liam and Axel, who are both selected for the junior races. They left his week to compete in a couple of European national championship events and get in some training and experience against top international competition.
While Sifiso may be the standout performer for South Africa, the person in the South African team who probably stands out more than anybody else must be veteran Sharlene McGilvray. The Pietermaritzburg-based 51-year-old mother is currently ranked second in the 45-plus age group for women and wants revenge after being beaten in Australia in the World Championships last year.
SA team for UCI BMX World Championships:
Elite Men: Sifiso Nhlapo; Dean Holdstock; Gavin Lubbe; Kane Herbert; Jordan O’Keeffe.
Junior Elite: Teagan O’Keeffe; Christopher Austin.
Veterans 30 years and over: Sharlene McGilvray.
Senior 23-29 years: Jonnathan Chislett; Shane Coulthard.
Under 23 (16-23 years): Lloyd Dodd; Kyle Dodd; Wayne Gerber; Nzuzo
Mngadi; Godfrey Buzibo.
Junior (10-15 years): Liam Webster; Axel Webster; Kayla Eggar; Dylan Eggar; Bryce Stiebel.