Oh you rode the Absa Cape Epic did you? Well, William Mokgopo at 21 already has two under his belt.

Mokgopo is a product of the Diepsloot Mountain Bike Academy, an initiative designed to provide kids from Diepsloot township schools with basic life skills and access to mountain biking. Mokgopo couldn’t have asked for a better springboard, but his placings are his own doing.

The potential was noticeable when in 2009, he notched up second place in the junior division at the 94.7 Cycle Race (14th overall) and finished 3rd at the school national champs the same year. He took it easy in 2010 to focus on Matric and being headboy of his school, 2011 was difficult as most of the bikes Mokgopo and the other riders from the Diepsloot Mountain Bike Academy used were stolen, but he bounced back with solid Epic finishes in 2012 and 2013.

This year he finished second at the Gauteng Cross Country series and at the Gauteng Championships he finished sixth overall before going on to represent South Africa at the world champs. The pace of international competition was intense and Mokgopo says it gave him new respect for his late mountain biking hero Burry Stander.

In the meantime, with plans to study sports science at the University of Pretoria next year and ambitions to notch up some big cycling wins, we back Mokgopo to be a big shot biker in the next couple of years.

#BestAdvice: The details matter
“The best advice I was ever given came from Andre Ross of the Diepsloot Mountain Biking Academy. He told me you must always do the small things right, because they can effect the bigger things in your life. For example presenting yourself well, like just saying hi to someone, might open up opportunities for you. If people like your attitude, great things can happen.”

*By Tudor Caradoc-Davies