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Youth Games winners get reward

By Mark Etheridge

Two of our gold medallists from the recent 2nd African Youth Games in Gaborone, Botswana have been rewarded with further international honours.

Cyclists Alan Hatherly and Frankie du Toit have been included in the national team for the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships in Hafjell, Norway later this year.

Junior riders Hatherly and Du Toit both won gold in the MTB event in Gaborone in May.

The SA team will be made up of 18 riders who will ride either the cross-country or downhill category from 2-7 September.

Eleven riders will tackle the cross-country course and seven will be part of the helter-skelter downhill race.

The elite riders in the cross-country category will be the Commonwealth Games bound duo of Philip Buys and Mariske Strauss, as well as Rourke Croeser.

And three-time world champion Greg Minnaar heads up five elite riders in the downhill category.

Said Hatherly, who hails from Hillcrest in KwaZulu-Natal: “After being sick with bilharzia and having a few tough races it meant that after I had recovered it left me with my final chance to prove myself which was the last national of the series in Port Elizabeth, which I gave full gas and managed to win by three and a half minutes,” the 18-year-old told Road to Rio 2016.

“Obviously after the nationals it was just a test of patience waiting for the final selection list to come out and I was ecstatic to see I was selected! I based my whole year’s plans, as far as training and preparation, around World’s and now it’s just the final few weeks of hard work before I get use it in Norway.

“This is my last year as a Junior so I feel I have to prove myself internationally to help make my dreams come true of one day riding for an International MTB team. My goal for World’s is a podium finish and I’m really looking forward to World’s!”

As for Du Toit, who like Hatherly also rides out of KwaZulu-Natal (Wartburg to be precise), she had this to say: “It means a lot to me to make the team this year because I am only a first year junior (it is an U18 age group and I am U17) and I have worked hard for it throughout the year.

“This year I wanted to just gain experience (and obviously try and do my best!) but next year is when I’ll go all out and see if I can podium. So for this year I am hoping for a top 10 finish and next year top five,” said the bubbly 16-year-old.

The full team is:

Cross-country
Junior: Bianca Haw, Frankie du Toit, Julian Jessop, Alan Hatherly
Under-23: Candice Neethling, James Reid, William Mogkopo, Brendon Davids
Elite: Mariske Strauss, Philip Buys, Rourke Croeser

Downhill
Junior: Gregg Brown, Andrew Martin
Elite: Greg Minnaar, Andrew Neethling, Timothy Bentley, Stefan Garlicki, Tiaan Odendaal