Burry Stander

Mountain biker

According to Burry Stander talent goes a long way towards helping someone to become a world-class mountain biker. But it needs to be supplemented with a protein shake of other vital ingredients � such as hard work, good health, mental strength and a strong support network of family, friends and teammates. It's a recipe that evidently works for Stander. Since first getting into the saddle at age 10, he soon began to race, win and, through the years, work his way up to his current spot as one of the three best mountain bikers in the world. At 12, Stander scooped his first South African and African titles. By 17, he was racing across continents before being crowned under-23 World Champion in 2009. He went on to represent South Africa at the Beijing Olympic Games, finishing 15th. Undaunted, he has his sights set on gold at next year's Olympics. If his latest victory � in the gruelling Absa Cape Epic � is anything to go by, this goal is not out of his reach. In April Stander became the first South African to win the eight-day 707km race. Although he lists this triumph as a career highlight he admits that it didn't take long before he started thinking about the next race. Stander's will to be the best and his craving for competition � ultimately against himself � is what keeps him racing, and it goes hand in hand with his pure love for the sport. Even though racing only allows him six weeks downtime a year and demanding 30 hours of dedication a week and months away from his Umtentweni home, he couldn't live without it. No. If Stander has his way he'll be on his bike 10 years from now � racing against himself and the clock, until he's forced to stop. � Lu Larche

Website: burrystander.co.za Twitter: @africanmtbkid