South African mountain biker William Mokgopo has once again been nominated in the prestigious Sport Personality of the Year category for the 2018 Gauteng Sport Awards.
Mokgopo is the only cyclist to be nominated among athletes and administrators in 19 categories, as he continues to represent the sport and inspire the youth to pursue their dreams of becoming professional riders. He was a finalist in the same category for the first time in 2015.
Mokgopo is a six-time Absa Cape Epic finisher, including winning the Exxaro Development Jersey with Philemon Sebona in 2017. He was second place Elite Men at the 2017 Gauteng MTB XCO Championships and eighth place Elite Men at the 2017 SA National MTB XCO Championships.
He also races for The University of Pretoria and was instrumental in achieving podium finishes for TUKS Cycling at the 2017 Varsity MTB Challenge (3rd place) and the inaugural Student MTB Cup (1st place).
Off the bike, Mokgopo graduated from the Laureus YES programme in 2017 and was invited to be a panellist for the Laureus Sports Breakfast in partnership with Mercedes-Benz earlier this year alongside other industry leaders such as Kevin Vermaak (founder of the Absa Cape Epic), fellow athlete Jennie Stenerhag, and Dr. Carol Austin (Head of Performance Support and Medical at Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka).
Although the odds have often been stacked against him, Mokgopo has shown great determination and the "Will" power to rise above the challenges. With his positive attitude and consistent representation on the local and international racing circuit, Mokgopo is an ambassador for the sport of mountain biking, and indeed, all athletes in the province who aspire to the highest level.
“I’ve had a very challenging year and most of it due to sickness, so this nomination brings me hope that I’m still recognised as one of the best sport stars in Gauteng or even South Africa," says Mokgopo. "I am honoured by this nomination and truly grateful for the opportunity to represent cycling at the Gauteng Sport Awards."
"I wouldn't be able to do this without the belief and motivation from my partners Triviron Project Management and Merida Bikes, my family, friends and the amazing team I work with that keeps me going. It is not always an easy road, but we continue to move forward and achieve our goals."
He remains to be one of the very few black riders to represent South Africa in a sport that still has high barriers to entry for previously disadvantaged athletes, and he hopes to change that in the near future by starting his own professional team - specifically scouting for young black cycling talent that deserves access to the same opportunities he has had in a professional structure.
The winners will be announced at Silverstar Casino on 2nd September 2018. The Sport Personality of the Year award winner is determined by public vote.
To vote for William, SMS 'Sport 06' to 49497. SMS cost R1.50. Free SMS's do not apply. Voting closes 2nd September 2018 at 17:00pm.
Follow William on social media: @WilliamMokgopo on Twitter and @weeleeyumjnr on Instagram.