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March 10, 2003

Reece silences rivals

From: Melbourne Herald Sun, Australia - 10 Mar 2003


TRAINEE chef Reece van Beek last night upstaged the stars to win the 3000m Bendigo Golden Mile off the liberal mark of 375m.

Van Beek, 20, who has been hearing-impaired since birth, said he had now set his sights on next week's Austral Wheel Race at Vodafone Arena.

Although certain to be dragged back off the outmark of 240m, van Beek, who has been riding for five years, looms as one of the finds of the season.

Last night he gave none of his rivals a chance, clearing out from his fellow outmarkers and riding virtually solo for seven laps of the 413m track.

At the finish, he was about 80 metres clear of Brenton Crawley, of Wagga (160m), and scratch man Rod McGee, of New South Wales.

World kilometre champion Shane Kelly, who was an even-money favourite for the event, finished fourth.

Kelly, who leaves for the Mexico World Cup on Wednesday, earlier won the keirin final, but never looked likely off his scratch mark.

Van Beek, who works at Parliament House in Melbourne and rides for the Geelong West club, said a car accident two years ago had affected his vertigo.

He said his hearing had been progressing well before the accident, but he had since gone downhill.

The quietly spoken van Beek, who is of Dutch origin, said it was a feeling of great relief when he crossed the line.

It was his ambition to ride at the 2001 Deaf Olympics, but lack of money prevented him from doing so. His goal now is to ride in Melbourne's 2005 Deaf Olympics.

Van Beek said he did not know what he would do with the $3000 prizemoney, but would most likely invest it.

McGee, who will partner fellow NSW rider Steven Wooldridge in the Bendigo Madison, was quoted at 2-1 second favourite before the event.

The 80km, 200-lap event attracted a record crowd, despite the windy, cold conditions at Tom Flood Oval.

© Herald and Weekly Times