Elite South African cyclist Carla Swart died in an accident during a time-trial training session, Cycling South Africa (CSA) said on Wednesday.
The 23-year-old was hit by a truck on Wednesday morning on the road to Marquard in the Free State, CSA said in a statement on its website.
CSA team manager Barry Austin, who witnessed the accident, said Swart lost her cycling computer and, in an effort to retrieve it, turned around directly in front of an oncoming vehicle. She died on the way to hospital.
“I could see how the driver pushed as hard as he could on his brakes,” said Austin.
“He even swerved to the right so as to avoid smashing into Swart, but it was to no avail. The truck hit Swart full on, flinging her into the air. I immediately rushed to where Swart was lying.”
When she was 15-years-old, Swart and her family moved to Georgia in the United States, but she continued to represent South Africa at international level.
In 2006 she attended Lees-McRae College, in North Carolina, receiving a scholarship for cycling and athletics.
She became the first cyclist to win national collegiate titles in all four disciplines — road, mountain biking, track and cyclo-cross — with 11 titles in the 2008 season.
Swart was 10th in the women’s road race at the 2010 Road World Championships in Melbourne in October when she finished three seconds behind winner Giorgia Bronzini in a sprint finish.
Eight days later she placed eighth in the women’s road race at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi, India, in another sprint finish.
Swart was to have joined the HTC High Road team this year. — Sapa