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Fatyi looks to up challenge at World Championships

It’s been a steady rise through the ranks for cross country mountain biker Luthando Fatyi and the Port Elizabeth based competitor will now look to step up to take on the challenge of the UCI MTB and Trials World Championships which take place at Cascades MTB Park in Pietermaritzburg on 26 August-1 September.

Having been selected as part of the elite men’s contingent of the South African squad set to tackle the event in a few weeks’ time, the Siyanqoba Cycling Club rider, together with Under-23 hopeful William Mokgopo, will become the first two black men since Justice Makhile to represent the country at a MTB World Championship event.

Fatyi, Mokgopo and female cross country rider Rosalia Kubwana’s participation in the event is an important step for the sport of mountain biking in South Africa as the trio seek to inspire future generations of black mountain bikers in the region.

Coming from a humble background, mountain biking was not a pastime that was widely taken up in his community however Fatyi’s cycling interest began when he had got hold of a family bicycle over a decade ago. ÔÇ£I became interested in mountain biking in about 2000. My uncle had an old mountain bike that he used as transport to work and back, so I used to use the bicycle when he was not using it,ÔÇØ Fatyi said.

Pulling on your nation’s colours is something that the majority of people do not have the privilege of experiencing and until recently Fatyi thought he was in the same boat. The idea of representing his country was not something that he believed would ever come his way until a few weeks ago.

ÔÇ£Representing South Africa has always been my dream but not on the mountain bike. I received a new bike last year and that is where my passion grew again and I knew that the sky was going to be the limit for me.ÔÇØ

Fatyi has had a tough time of late but remains positive and believes he constant improvement will see him in good physical conditions by the time the World Champs begin at the end of August.

ÔÇ£The South African champs were tricky for me but I managed to finish in sixth place in the Elite men’s category,ÔÇØ mentioned Fatyi. ÔÇ£Although that is not where I wanted to be, I felt like I was getting stronger on the climbs which is encouraging for me.

ÔÇ£I’m in a good position going into the World Championships, I feel my power is getting better with every training session I do which is very important because I have to be super sharp when the world champs come,ÔÇØ he added.

Not being too familiar with the course could prove to be a problem for Fatyi however having the World Championships in his home country does still mean he has the opportunity to see the track and prepare on it before the his international competitors arrive in town.

ÔÇ£I have only ridden the Pietermaritzburg course once before but I’m glad there is going to be a training camp there before the World Champs so I can prepare beforehand.

ÔÇ£I know a bit about the course and I think that it suits me but I’m going to have to be particularly sharp through the rock gardens. The climbs will suit me well and play to my strengths,ÔÇØ he revealed.

Setting goals for first-timers can be difficult which means that Fatyi has not set too higher expectations for himself heading into the event and will instead look to use the opportunity as part of his development as a rider.

ÔÇ£If I can get into the top 100 that will be great for me but I will do my best to be right up until the end and hopefully that will be enough ÔÇô I just need to avoid crashing,ÔÇØ Fatyi added light-heartedly.


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