Olympic dreaming

2013-09-03 00:00

THE name of Greg Minnaar is synonymous with cycling and Pietermaritzburg.

But, so great has the current downhill world champion’s influence been on young cyclists in the city that Epworth schoolgirl Bianca Haw (17), who is a cross-country cyclist, hopes one day to be mentioned in the same light.

Last week, Bianca, who is in matric, took part in the junior women’s race at the UCI Mountain Bike and Trials World Championships, and managed to come in 10th.

“I was really happy with that,” Bianca told The Witness.

“I was aiming for a top 10, but a top 20 would have been fine … I was 14th coming into the final lap, and I could hear the crowd telling me to go for top 10,” she said.

In July, Bianca went to Italy to compete at the World Cup, but could only manage to finish in 24th place.

This left her disappointed, and hoping to improve in time for the world championships in her home town.

She started cycling competitively last year, but has been riding bicycles ever since she was “small”, she said, and looked up to cross-country cyclists Candice Neethling and the late Burry Stander, as well as Pietermaritzburg’s downhill superstar Minnaar.

“My main dream is to go to the Olympics, and to win a world championship one day. I’m still young, so I’ll have to wait and see how that goes,” she said.

But, it was a tough week for Bianca, who juggled her top 10 finish along with her books, as she was busy writing matric trials.

“I was given Thursday off to compete, but I was lucky that it was held here so I could write trials and compete.”

Is cycling her favourite sport?

“I always get asked that, and I always find it hard to answer.”

Earlier this year, Bianca took part in the Dusi Canoe Marathon and was the first girls’ under-18 canoeist to finish.

“I’m lucky that they’re not in the same season,” she said.

This is a sentiment shared by her mother Mandy Haw.

“Once the Dusi finished, she got on her bike.

“She’s always cycled, swam and run,” said Haw.

Bianca’s older siblings, Murray (19) and Tamika (21), have also competed in the Dusi along with their dad Glen, said Haw. They were all at Cascades MTB Park to watch her finish her junior cross-country race.

“We were all really excited,” said Haw, who added that the entire week was a great experience.

Next year, Bianca goes off to the Cape to do a B.Com in Agriculture at Stellenbosch University, where she has already been accepted.

“I’ll cycle more, and I’ll try to go to more World Cup races,” she said, while holding her Biology notes as she studied for her next exam.

NAME: Bianca Haw

AGE: 17

HEIGHT: 1,7 m

SCHOOL: Epworth School

GRADE: Matric

SPORT: Mountain biking

AMBITION: To study B.Com Agriculture; to compete in the Olympics and to become world champion one day.

Honours: Finished 10th in the women’s cross-country juniors race while representing South Africa at the UCI Mountain Bike and Trials World Championships. She also won the under-18 girls’ race at this year’s Dusi Canoe Marathon.

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