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Mariske’s on the move

By Mark Etheridge

She may be only 23 but Mariske Strauss’ cycling CV reveals an impressive tally of success in the gruelling world of mountain biking… and a talent beyond her tender years.

Come the Commonwealth Games later this month and she’ll be hoping to add yet another entry on that list.

She’s already a national and African cross-country champion and also placed sixth in the world at the 2011 World Cup held on home soil in Pietermaritzburg three years ago.

She’s one of only two mountain-bikers in the cycling code of Team South Africa for the Glasgow, Scotland event. London Olympian Philip Buys is the other.

And the Durbanville based rider believes she’s dotted the i’s and crossed the t’s in her bid to bring back glory for the green and gold team.

“Training has been great,” she told Road to Rio 2016. “I’m so blessed with an amazing support structure that helps with the long hours and effort that go into prepping for these events. My coach Dr Jeroen Swart has been amazing with getting me race ready and peaking at the right time.. I think we’ve definitely found a formula that works.”

And as she says, peaking for an event of such magnitude as the Commonwealth Games is no quick-fix formula.

“It’s a long process and doesn’t happen over night.. my racing calendar is set out and planned after each season. My dad always reminds me that to race like a race horse you can’t train like a donkey, so the best way to get race-ready is to compete and get ready for war, by racing internationally and constantly push your limits.”

She makes no secret of the fact that the Rio Olympics are her big goal but as such, the Commonwealth Games are very much a part of that road.

“It’s a great honour to be chosen for such a big event and I’m super blessed and excited.”

But there’s a cool blonde head on those shoulders. “I’m still trying to keep things as ‘normal’ as possible, but this is a massive step in the right direction.”

In terms of expectations, she’s confident but not over confident when it comes to her Glasgow goals.

“I haven’t any real idea of what to expect but I’m ready for anything thrown in my direction. I’d love to get a podium, and that’s my plan, but obviously in cross-country there are loads of uncontrollable elements so I’ll just focus, control what I can, let go of what I can’t and just give it horns… full throttle and I’m not planning to take any prisoners.”

Strauss says the fact that she’s part of the SA Commonwealth squad is still sinking in. “I’m sure that it will soon though. And it’s due to all my supporters, family, friends, team and coach that I’m able to do what I’m doing, I just can’t wait to represent our amazing country at the Games.”

She won’t be part of the Team SA holding camp in Boksburg that begins on Monday. “Unfortunately we only leave on 24 July.”

The rainbow nation will be holding thumbs that she IS part of the podium celebrations in Glasgow.

One thing’s for sure and that’s the fact that the racer for the Orange Monkey Pro outfit will be hoping to celebrate bronze, silver or, dare we dream it, gold in Glasgow.

Picture: Cornelius M Muller