South African cycling representatives James Reid and Alan Hatherly are currently testing out the Mountain Bike Cross-country course in the final days ahead of their race at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Sunday 21 August.
Reid, the two-time SA National Cross-country Champion, has also claimed two Elite Men’s Marathon National Championship titles in 2013 and 2014. The 24-year-old Stellenbosch local also placed 10th at the u23 World Championships in Norway in 2014.
“I’m feeling quite good, its good to be here time-wise so that the jetlag is over,” said Reid. “I’m settled in and the team is quite organised. It’s really kind of no holds barred here. Everyone does everything and it really does feel like your country has your back, it truly is something,” he said.
Reid described his experience so far as a sensory overload: “I’m still mind blown by the magnitude, intensity and diversity of the Olympics.”
He also spoke about how the swapping of lapel pins has been a huge icebreaker, encouraging the athletes to meet others from all walks of life. “Ours went up in value significantly after the other night’s 400-metre win by Wayde van Niekerk, which left us all with a hearty shot of inspiration and cheering as a nation for our first gold rush,” he added.
Finally feeling adjusted to the heat, Reid concluded by saying that he is looking forward to what the track has in store for the mountain bike riders come Sunday.
Alan Hatherly is the u23 Men’s African Continental Cross-country Champion, and the 2014 African Youth Games Gold Medallist, who has impressed not only the u23 category, but also the Elite Men’s scene at a provincial and national level.
Hatherly mentioned that although very tired upon arrival on Saturday, the two mountain bikers were still able to absorb how “massive" the Olympic experience was.
“The food hall itself is about 500 metres long with basically anything you want to eat. To have that option for 12000 athletes is just incredible,” he said. "Everything here is crazy-thought-out and super easy to get hold of. There are busses for us to get all over Rio and watch all the events,” he added.
He has been positively overwhelmed by his experience so far: “We get given passes that allow us access to pretty much everything, including massages and any food hall. I’m still trying to take it all in and actually realise how big this really is. We managed to get out onto the course on Wednesday, which was massive.
When asked about the Rio 2016 Men’s Cross-country course, Hatherly said: “The course is incredible and super well structured. It’s a lot more man-made compared to the courses we race but it works really well. We did some laps and got a feel for it and it’s really tough but I think the major factor for the race is going to be the heat on the day. We are off to the course again today to do some final checks. I’m looking forward to the race on Sunday and I’m feeling really good.”
The Cross-country specialists will tackle laps of a 4.85-kilometre track at Deodoro Olympic Park on Sunday 21 August at 12:30 (local time) / 17:30 (SA time).
You can watch the 2016 Rio Olympic Games Men’s XCO MTB on DSTV SuperSport:
· Sunday 21 August (17:25): Men’s Cross Country – SS6