Philip Buys, who represented South Africa at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, has been selected to represent South Africa at the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships in Andorra, from 31 August to 6 September. If Buys should be given one wish to come true this year, it would undoubtedly be for an opportunity to, just for once, compete in a major race without any setbacks. The Tuks/HPC mountain biker says: ‘It seems as if I have become master of the art of getting ill or injured before an important race. In the South African Championships in Stellenbosch this weekend, I raced with a cold.’
Due to his illness Buys could only finish fifth. James Reid won the SA title. Buys has been beleaguered by bad luck ever since winning a stage in the Absa Cape Epic as well as finishing fifth overall. The worst of his bad luck happened during the SA Cup race at Mankele, outside Nelspruit.
While he was in the lead during the first lap of the race, the handlebars of his bike were ensnared by a small tree branch. This resulted in a domino effect during which he rode into a bigger tree and injured his shoulder ligaments. This injury prevented him from being at his best during the African Championships in Rwanda, as well as during the two World Cup events in which he competed.
The Tuks/HPC rider fully realises that if he still wants to represent South Africa at next year’s Olympic Games, he has his work cut out for him. Buys says: ‘At the moment it seems as if South Africa might be able to qualify two riders for the Games. However, I have to be the realistic. Considering my results so far this season, my chances of going to Rio are slim. But I am still not despondent. I know that, on a good day without any setbacks, I will still be capable of proving myself worthy of a place in the Olympic team.’ Buys does not plan to compete in any race in the build-up to the World Championships.
He says: ‘I think it would be best for me to put in the long hard hours on my own, while doing my best to stay healthy and injury free. If my luck should hold until the World Championships, my goal would be to race for a top-twenty finish.’ The following riders were selected for the South African team that will compete at the World Championships –
Cross-country – Elite men: Philip Buys, James Reid, Rourke Croeser, William Mokgopo, Sipho Madolo
Elite women: Mariske Strauss and Cherie Vale
Under-23 men: Alan Hatherly and Gert Heyns
Junior men: Julian Jessop and Marco Joubert
Junior women: Frances Du Toit
Downhill Men: Greg Minnaar, Andrew Neethling, Tiaan Odendaal, Stefan Garlicki and Samuel Bull.
Photo credit: Reg Caldecott