Commonwealth Games cyclist Philip Buys shouldn’t actually be riding this weekend’s African Continental Mountain Bike Championships in Rwanda as he has torn shoulder ligaments – the latest painful reminder in a saga of bad luck experiences but quitting is simply not an option for the Scott Factory Racing rider.
‘I need the UCI ranking points that are on offer to try and qualify for next year’s Olympic Games so riding through pain for an hour or two is a small price to pay. I will just strap my shoulder with duct tape before the race so as to try and lessen the pain,’the Tuks/hpc rider said.
Ever since finishing fifth overall in the Absa Cape Epic where he also won a stage, Buys has been beleaguered by bad luck.
In the South African Mountain Bike Cup race in Pretoria he lost valuable time because of mechanical problems but, luckily, still managed a third place finish. Then in Pietermaritzburg he got sick and could only finish 10th.
The worst of his bad luck happened during the recent SA Cup race at Mankele outside Nelspruit. According to the Tuks/hpc sponsored cyclist, he was in the lead during the first lap of the race, and the bike’s handlebars became ensnared is a small tree branch. This caused a domino effect which ended with him riding into a bigger tree.
‘For a moment I thought I might have broken my shoulder, but the doctor established that I have only torn some ligaments. I had to take things slightly easier for the past two weeks but I think I have recovered sufficiently to race even though I’m still in pain when riding.’
Buys is quite philosophical about his run of bad luck. ‘Of course I would have preferred none of this to have happened, but it did and perhaps it was just as well. If I can get all of my bad-luck experiences out of the way this year it would be very helpful because it would mean that I could focus only on being at my best for the Olympic Games in Rio next year.
‘There is one positive that I can take from all my bad luck. It had nothing to do with my abilities as a mountain biker. I really feel strong at the moment and I know that, if bad luck does not strike again, I will be capable of getting good results in races.’
Still, it hasn’t been all bad news for Buys the past few weeks. On the latest UCI mountain bike rankings he is placed 29th which is two positions higher than the last rankings issued. France’s Julien Absalon tops the rankings with 2083 points. Buys has 693 points and James Reid, the second best South African on the list, is in the 39th position with 610 points.
He went on to tell Road to Rio 2016’s Mark Etheridge from Rwanda: ‘The shoulder’s not 100% yet right now but it actually only kept me off the bike for three days.’
Elaborating on the qualifying process, which of course, must still be subject to final SASCOC criteria, Buys said: ‘The two top country’s at Sunday’s race get a spot then the countries ranked top 14 in the world each get two sports (South Africa is 11th at the moment!).
Then I think the top 10 ranked riders in the world also get a spot so I’m pretty sure that SA will get at least one spot, maybe two for Rio. For the London Olympics I think I qualified with the second spot with our nation’s ranking. Burry Stander was first, then me but he also qualified with his individual ranking.’
And, as mentioned earlier, it hasn’t all been bad news for Buys. Recently he became part of another South African sporting romance as he and swimmer Karin Prinsloo hooked up.
‘Coolest girl I’ve ever met and one good thing to come out of my Commonwealth Games,’ he said.
The two also represented Team South Africa at the 2012 Olympics. Athletes LJ van Zyl and Irvette van Blerk were also part of the SA team and became husband and wife later that year.
Picture by Reg Caldecott