William “Weeleeyum” Mokgopo
Growing up poor in Diepsloot, mountain biker William Mokgopo has travelled far beyond the township and into the international mountain biking racing circuit. He got into cycling through an Earn-a-Bike programme run in Diepsloot back in 2006.
He joined, built and earned his own bike, and a passion was born.
Today Mokgopo co-ordinates and rides for the Diepsloot Mountainbike (MTB) Academy, where he was trained and groomed under Simon Nash.
He lives in Pretoria and is doing a bachelor’s degree in sport science at the University of Pretoria.
He was signed to the Kargo Pro MTB team, the first official UCI XCO (cross country) mountain bike team in South African in May, and just returned from the international UCI MTB World Cup series in Germany.
Mokgopo first hit the international circuit last year when he represented South Africa in the U23 men’s team at the UCI MTB World Championships in Pietermaritzburg.
He has represented South African twice this year already – at the UCI MTB African Continental Championships held in the Western Cape (finished 13th place U23 Men XCO) and at the UCI MTB World Cup in Pietermaritzburg (placed 33rd U23 Men XCO).
A three-time Absa Cape Epic finisher, Mokgopo plans to finish his degree and make it into the South African team for the 2016 Olympics.
“My long-term plan is to start my own motivational speaking programme so I can impart the lessons I’ve learnt to younger children. I want them to see that with hard work and determination, you can rise above your circumstances and achieve your dreams.
“Mountain biking is not just a sport to me, it’s a way of life. Through the academy and the mentors I’ve met there, I realised that I can have a successful future if I want it badly enough. Sport gave me hope and a positive outlook on life. My ultimate goal is just to prove that anything is possible.” — Samantha Perry