McGilvary aims for SA record

2013-08-22 00:00

SHARLENE McGilvary wants the gold.

And, if she does win her 50-54 category at the UCI Mountain Bike Masters World Championships tomorrow, the former Howick resident and now Pietermaritzburg local rider will become the first person in South Africa to hold world championships in BMX and mountain biking.

“Anything can happen on the day,” she told The Witness during practice at the Cascades MTB Park yesterday afternoon.

“I’m going to ride as hard as I can, and as fast as I can. If I do get the gold, I’m going to be the first South African ever to be BMX and mountain bike world champion. No one’s ever done that,” she said.

Asked how she was feeling, the cyclist, known for her psychedelic hairstyles, said: “F****** great! I’m awesome.”

She has just recovered from a back injury she said she suffered from overtraining, and described it as a blessing in disguise.

“It’s given me a chance to train differently. I reckon I would have burnt out had it not been for the injury. I was pushing myself and training too hard.”

On a day that saw 15 people require treatment from the paramedics, six of whom had to be taken to hospital, McGilvary said the course was not easy.

“I’ve been on it before. But the last time, there weren’t any rock gardens.”

She was confident about her chances, and said reputations didn’t matter to her.

“If you tell me that I’m coming up against a world champion, I’ll have respect for them because I know what it takes to get to the top. But, I won’t worry about somebody else’s race. I’m just here about my race. I don’t care who they are,” she said.

McGilvary is not the only Maritzburger competing in the Masters World Championships.

First time downhill world champs competitor Marc Kloppers said it was not often one rode in such a top event.

“Pietermaritzburg is my hometown, and it’s not very often that you get to compete in a world championship,” Kloppers said.

“Fitness is a key factor in this sport. It’s not just riding your bike down a hill. You need lots of stamina. It’s 60% fitness and 40% bike skills,” he said.

Tyson Kaman and Marie Walsh from the United States were full of praise for the organisation of the competition.

“This is well organised. It’s impressive,” said Kaman, who remarked that races back in his home country were not as well put together.

Tyson, the U.S. champion in his age group of 35-39, was unsure how he’d do.

“I have no idea what to expect. I don’t know who will be racing,” he said.

Neither did Walsh, who added: “I think I’m seeded in last place”.

Competition will officially begin tomorrow with cross-country in the morning and downhill from 2 pm to 5 pm.

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