Meet UP-Tuks’ MTB master: William Mokgopo
We recently caught up with UP-Tuks’ international mountain biker William Mokgopo. He will be representing UP-Tuks in the Varsity Sports Mountain Bike competition, which will form part of the inaugural Varsity MTB Challenge on 1 and 2 October.
So William, tell us about your family background and where you grew up?
I grew up in a small township just south of Johannesburg, called Diepsloot. And I lived together with my mom, dad, older sister and younger brother.
Obviously you’re an MTB professional now, but when was the first time you rode a bike and how did you fall in love with the sport?
I think the first time I rode a bike was about nine years ago, when I was 15 years old. I participated in other sports, but after my first cycling race I fell in love with the sport. It was something new and a different adventure for me.
For those who may not know – you’re a Tuks student, what is it that you are currently studying?
I’m currently studying a degree in Sports Sciences.
And what do you plan to do with your qualification after university?
I want to acquire more knowledge about what it takes to be an athlete and I plan to help disadvantaged kids who have the potential to become athletes, but have limited access to coaches. I’d also love to assist by coaching them.
For those people who have never experienced MTB, how would you describe the sport?
It’s a one of a kind adventure where you will experience so many emotions at once. You’ll be nervous, happy, tired, in pain, thrilled – you might even shed a tear or two, but at the end of it all you’ll want to get back on your bike and do it all over again.
What’s the most exciting aspect of being involved in a sport that is growing so rapidly in SA?
It’s pretty special seeing the sport grow, knowing where it began, and witnessing the changes it brings, all while personally growing within the sport.
You’ve done the Absa Cape Epic amongst other world-class races – what do you think will make Varsity MTB unique and what do you look forward to most about the event?
Varsity MTB will still be racing, but I think what will make it unique is the fact that everyone is welcome and accommodated – from your pros to your beginners. I’m really looking forward to just having a great time with friends and family while riding our bikes.
What are your goals for the rest of this year and beyond that?
While I had my injury I restructured my year. I focused on building and planning for the future. I am really looking forward to the second half of the 2016 season and I’m already working on the next Commonwealth and Olympic Games.