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09 Dec, 2016

Centurion on the Rise!

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Continuing our regular schools cycling feature, we chat to Nicky Lindeque, team organiser of the Centurion High School MTB Team. – BY KYLE DEELEY

The Centurion High School MTB Team is made up of a mixture of boys and girls from grade eight to grade 12, currently numbering 36 boys and three girls, and is still slowly growing. The team started with a few friends who rode together after school and they gradually formed groups that began training regularly. Then in 2011 the official school team was started by a few parents who were cyclists themselves. “At that stage, the Spur Schools MTB Series was already running and the riders from our school were not allowed to compete individually, so it was then decided that mountain biking would be started as an official school sport and we gave the riders an opportunity to compete on a school level,” says Nicky.

“I am a cyclist myself and my son started cycling in 2014. This is when I got involved in the admin side of the team. I am not a teacher at the school, so this is something I do in my spare time. Then in 2015 I took over the management of the team and I find that my passion and determination for the sport helps,” she continues.

 

Early Sporting Exposure

Growing up, sport was considered one of the most important aspects of life for Nicky, and she has instilled the same values in her own family. She was born and raised in Hartbeespoort in the North West and attended Hartbeespoort High School, where she excelled in various sporting activities, achieving provincial colours for gymnastics as well as Springbok colours for kickboxing, as well as doing well in athletics, long distance running and aerobics. “Participation in sports was always a definite career path for me. I am passionate about sports and the development of youth sport. I also enjoy photography, especially at mountain biking events,” says Nicky.

The school makes use of two freelance coaches who dedicate their time and experience to helping the team. “Both coaches were previous MTB school riders and part of the first Centurion High School team. Our training is more focussed on the development of the riders than the result at the end of the day, because too often kids are pushed too hard at a young age and they tend to burn out, even though they have great potential,” says Nicky.

She is helped in her role as manager of the team by teacher Jaco le Roux, who coached middle distance cross country at the school and then decided to get involved in the MTB team. He is also a cyclist and can contribute his knowledge of the sport to the team. “Both Jaco and myself have taken part in mountain biking, and we are both passionate about developing young talent, hence we jumped at the opportunity when it rose,” explains Nicky.

 

Awesome Team Spirit

The team does most of its training at The Big Red Barn and frequently takes part in the USN races that are held there. The team also competes in the Spur Schools MTB League as well as the cross-country series held at the Voortrekker Monument. However, Nicky says that May, August and September are the toughest months of the year for the team due to other, bigger sports like rugby, netball, baseball and cross country being given more attention than cycling. “Because of the other sports that demand the kids’ attention, the cycling team doesn’t always get the exposure it needs,” she says.

Nevertheless, the kids are passionate about cycling and enjoy competing. “We have achieved great results over the years and our biggest achievement to date is having boys and girls chosen to represent the Gauteng Dream Team. This team is made up of the 15 cyclists that are not only the strongest, but have a passion for cycling,” says Nicky. She adds that the Centurion Team has a very strong bond and the young riders always stand together to support each other. “This is a great thing to see amongst the kids, and it helps weaker riders improve and injured riders return to the team. Our team has great cohesion because of it,” says Nicky.

When asked what she has learnt from her experience with the team and the advice she gives to newcomers to mountain biking, Nicky answers emphatically that “Anyone can do it, no matter your age, fitness level or the type of bike you have. Cycling should be fun and if it stops being something you enjoy, rethink your strategy. Every champion was once a contender that refused to give up.”