William Mokgopo, “The Skinny Hulk”, back in the hunt

William Mokgopo – “The Skinny Hulk” –  back in the hunt

After a tough 2 years struggling with illness, William Mokgopo is now nearly back to his best! The 27 year old, who hails from Diepsloot, had to dig deep over the last couple of seasons, but have now managed to overcome his struggles with excercised-induced asthma. His most recent results – 5th overall at the 3 Towers challenge;  7th at the Trailseeker Challenge (Van Gaalen), 2nd at the Juma MTB race and a well-deserved 1st at the Gauteng XCO championships, clearly shows that the tide has well and truly turned!

We caught up with William just before his departure on the African Icons Invitational.

Well done on a great season so far, how has it been: My main goal was just to get back on the bike and I saw this year as a rebuilding phase. As you know I was struggling with breathing and really found training and racing difficult. Initially I was also misdiagnosed, but since finding the real cause things have really turned around for me. It was tough going through illness but my sponsor, coach, friends and family never gave up on me, so I also had no reason to give up on myself.

The results did come in during 2019, what were your highlights?   Yes, I’m very proud to fighting may way back and to be back in contention at the Trailseeker series events with two top 10 finishes. I also had a a second at Juma and a win the Gauteng XCO. It’s a process to get back to 100% but I’m nearly there with all the training I’m putting in.

Speaking of which, you recently moved to Pretoria. Yes I now live in Pretoria and  privileged to train at the High Performance centre there. I have a great coach (Devlin Eyden) and he has helped a lot.

So how does a normal week of training look like?  I train or race 6 days a week. Typically Mondays are recovery rides. On Tuesdays I know I’m in for some pain with 3 hard sessions. Wednesdays and Thursdays its long rides (3-4hours) and then racing on weekends.

How did the move come about? I’m very lucky to have found a good sponsor. I was just going around selling “space” on my shirt and that is when Triviron Project Management came on board. They have been great and Triviron is a very supportive sponsor.  The Director also comes to most of my races to support me, which is great.

And the bike? Yes I moved from Merida to Titan and really loving my bike. It did take me some time to get used to the geometry as I was used to cycling with a hard tail – but now I absolutely love the bike, it is an amazing and exciting bike. I also like the fact that I’m growing with the brand and the bike.

What are your goals for the remainder of the season? Its now just about wrapping up my rebuilding season and I will be heading down for the Wines2Whales and tackling that with Mazwe, from Martin Dreyer’s team. Then its just waiting for my break, as hopefully my hard work would’ve paid off.

You have finished the Epic 6 times and managed to win the Exxaro category with Phillimon Sebona – is that on the radar for next year, any other plans ? Unfortunately I don’t yet have an entry for the Epic, but hoping for one:). I’m too old now for the Exxaro category and that was just a stepping stone for me, I really wanted to win it once. With the win I was also privileged to go to Belgium, which I really enjoyed.  I’m really hoping to get more sponsorship support to go take part overseas. For 2020 that is my main goal… to race overseas.

Well done William with your comeback and good luck with the remainder of the season and with your goals for next year. William has represented SA 4 times at the UCI MTB XCO World Championships and twice at the African Continental Championships – with this new found form we are sure we would be seeing him in national colours soon again!