After 17 years at the helm of South Africa’s most iconic TV show dedicated to cycling, the producer and behind-the-scenes action figure of Aubrey Coetzee is now looking ahead to his retirement.
In a television career spanning 42 years, Coetzee has been involved in just about every aspect of putting a television show together, and his most recent 17 years of SuperCycling on DSTV’s Supersport was testimony to his experience in his trade.
Coetzee’s introduction into cycling began in 1975 when he joined the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC). His first assignment was to cover track cycling at a packed Hector Norris Park in Johannesburg, and it was also the first ever live broadcast of a cycling event on South African television. Television also brought a lot of sponsorship into the sport due to coverage of our own well organised cycling tours like Rapport, Boland, Panorama and Hanson Tours, to name a few.
He left the SABC and freelanced on various productions until the 1990s, where he joined the company that produced Old Mutual’s World of Endurance and reconnected with cycling once again. The next step, and what would ultimately be his “home” for the next 17 years, was the start of SuperCycling in 2001.
When asked about his most memorable moments in his career, Coetzee said, “That would have to be our international riders coming back home to take part in the SA Championships, whether mountain bike or road. They want that jersey to be displayed to the world. Also, what a proud moment for our up and coming young talent to race against some of their heroes.
“A really proud moment for the show was in 2003 when Kevin Vermaak announced the first edition of the Cape Epic 2004 and how quickly the entries were sold out. From then until now it has been quite a highlight for me, and how it has grown into one of the most prestigious races in the world and is known as the “Tour de France” of MTB.”
Cycling and sport has taken Aubrey to some of the most amazing places in the world, and one particular point in his life that he will long remember is the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona. This was the first time since 1960 that South African athletes could compete against the world. The first South African Olympic cyclists after 32 years were 19-year-old Malcolm Lange, Wayne Burgess, Scott Richardson and Jacky Martin. What a proud moment to have been part of the biggest sporting showcase in the world and to have witnessed the international media attention regarding our comeback.
His long working hours and mostly weekend work meant that Aubrey did not have much time to dabble into sports, let alone cycling. He does however get onto his “vintage” Trek mountain bike every afternoon for a ride to see if the dogs in the suburb started to recognise him after all these years… they’re still barking.
Aubrey thanked his team at SuperCycling. “Thanks to Andrew Mclean, Gerald de Kock, Owen Hannie and Arnold Geerdts as well as my production, technical, studio, camera and motorbike crews that made my life so much easier with their professionalism and input. There are so many people, including all at Cycling South Africa, set organisers, and everyone that crossed my life contributing to the show. I have so many friends in the industry and I wish that I could name them all. I had the ride of my life!”
Having worked on some of the first animation films in the early 1970s, Aubrey looks forward to rekindling his passion with drawing once again when he switches off the production lights.
“Television in sport requires lots of travelling, working weekends, long hours sometimes with no breakfast or lunch, inclement weather and not a lot of sleep! Sometimes you’re away from home for weeks at a time, which places a lot of strain on the family. I don’t think that a family can ever get used to television hours! I am truly jealous of not being able to be part of the sport anymore and hope that all involved will treasure and look after it with everything they’ve got.”
“I will now concentrate on my family, and some of my hobbies and friends that I have spent little time with along the way.
“Old age, believe me, is a good and pleasant thing. It is true you are gently shouldered off the stage, but then you are given such a comfortable front stall as spectator.”
On behalf of Cycling South Africa’s Executive and Management Committees, and the greater South African cycling community, we wish Aubrey Coetzee all the very best in his retirement. Thank you for the incredible work that you have done over your illustrious career and for sharing your love of cycling to the world.