Having already been crowned BMX world champ in the women’s 45+ Cruiser class at the UCI BMX World Championships in her hometown in 2010, the self-proclaimed ‘fastest old bat in the world’ is at it again and will be hoping to repeat the feat when mountain biking’s most prestigious masters event comes to town later this year.
Sharlene McGilvray (Team Jeep) en route to victory in the UCI BMX World Championships in Pietermaritzburg in 2010. The "fastest old bat in the world" will look to replicate the feat when she tackles the UCI Masters MTB World Champs at Cascades MTB Park in Pietermaritzburg in August 2013.
Mark Squire/Gameplan Media
“There’s no doubt about it, I want gold!” said McGilvray. “That most certainly is my goal and what my focus is at the moment, but I’m also going to have fun whilst trying to do that!”
“I’m not putting any pressure on myself. I’ll just look to go out there and have a blast but I’m definitely going there to try and win.
“It’s a whole different ball game to 2010 and I know that I definitely have my work cut out for me but I’m flipping determined!
If anyone understands what it means to be crowned world champion in their hometown it McGilvray and the experience she enjoyed at the 2010 BMX spectacle still plays a significant role in her life today.
“Competing at the BMX World Champs in 2010 was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever done. The atmosphere was out of this world and the support we, as South Africans, got was simply indescribable!
“When we got up to the start gate at the top of the hill our names and countries were announced to the crowd. When they called mine out and the crowd heard “South Africa” they just erupted and I actually started crying I was so overwhelmed.
“To this day I still have people I don’t even know coming up to me in the streets, at the shops or at races saying that they were there the day I won and that is just one of the most unbelievable feelings ever!
Team Jeep's Sharlene McGilvray will be hoping to become the first South African ever to clinch a masters world championship title in two separate cycling disciplines when she shoots for gold at the UCI Masters MTB World Championships in Pietermaritzburg from 21-25 August.
Darren Goddard/Gameplan Media
Just moments after completing her thrilling victorious lap on the BMX circuit three years ago, the Team Jeep competitor listed the pressure of racing in front of her home crowd as one of the largest obstacles she had to overcome en route to victory.
This time around though, the multi-coloured haired adrenalin junkie is expecting a vastly different type of a spectacle with its own unique challenges and obstacles to overcome. It is, however, one the Team Jeep competitor is relishing the opportunity to be a part of.
“The MTB World Champs is a completely different challenge and will have a very different feel to it. The crowds will be scattered throughout the course and there won’t quite be the vibe of 2010 but the event will still be just as big, if not bigger than, the BMX World Champs and I can’t wait to be a part of it all.
Having been a part of the cycling world for decades and after starting her cycling journey in the MTB community, fittingly McGilvray appears to have come full circle ahead her quest for gold at this year’s event.
Despite this fairytale type setting, as well as the invaluable experience she also has on her side after her BMX success three years ago, McGilvray does however realize the size of the task ahead of her if she is to be successful in her golden bid, particularly after her last adventure – an assault on the renowned Dusi Canoe Marathon – kept her out of the saddle for some time in recent months.
“I first started doing downhill mountain biking before I switched to BMX, which I ended up doing for fourteen years. In 2011 I then switched back to MTB but have been riding single speed bikes mostly so this whole gearing change now has been quite tricky.
“Also, with me having done my first Dusi in February, I probably rode my bike a maximum of three times in the past eleven months so I’m definitely still getting back into things.
“I’ve got so much work to do, I realize that, but I’m working hard in training at the moment and am starting to feel a bit better with where I am in my preparation.
McGilvray, who will be hoping to give herself the best possible birthday present at this year’s event by clinching gold the day before her 54th celebrations, will also have the slight obstacle of further time off the bike to contend with as she heads for the United States of America at the end of May to visit her daughter.
However, through professional help and many hours of hard work, she is confident she will be where she needs to ahead of the international showcase in August.
“Training wise the timing isn’t ideal but I absolutely can’t wait to go visit my daughter in Boston and spend some time in New York as well! I’ll still be training whilst I’m over there through lots of running and plyometric work daily to try stay in shape as best I can.
“Before the 2010 BMX World Champs I went to a sports hypnotherapist, Andrea Kellerman, and I’ve also started seeing her again ahead of this year’s MTB Masters to try help me with my confidence and mental preparation.
“As far as riding goes my favourite sections are the single track stretches but I’m working hard on the technical stuff as well. Every time I get to a rock garden and get a little anxious I think to myself ‘If I can go over this sort of stuff in a canoe then I can damn well do over it on a bike!’
The UCI Mountain Bike and Trials World Championships takes place at The Cascades MTB park in Pietermaritzburg from 26 August to 1 September 2013, and will be preceded by the UCI MTB Masters World Championships from 21 to 25 August. More information can be found at www.mtbworldchamps.co.za