Behind every athlete….
In life and most definitely in sport, a good support structure is of utmost importance. Having people behind you, who believe in your abilities, is key to success.
My support structure consists some very special, hard working and committed individuals. Carl no doubt plays an instrumental role in my cycling career. My family has also been incredibly supportive and the role they have played affords it’s own blog to follow.
But first I want to write about a very significant person, a key role player and the mastermind behind my European cycling career, Roy Gershow.
How we met
Roy and I met at my very first National Road Cycling Championships in East London, South Africa in 2008. Carl and my Dad, Johan, accompanied me on what I would call, the start of my professional cycling career. It was on this trip to East London, that the dream to represent my country at the London Olympic Games began.
Being my first ever National Championships, I decided to do the Individual Time Trial two days before the Road Race as an ice breaker. I didn’t have a time trial bike, and had absolutely no idea about time trialing at all, but I set off determined to do my best.
I was cycling for a small club team at that time, the local Western Cape Cycle Lab team. Cycle Lab is the largest cycling retailer in South Africa, and is also the biggest and most recognizable club in the country, with branches throughout the country. Cycle Lab also had a professional women’s cycling outfit at the time and Roy Gershow was the team manager and owner.
It was at the 2008 National Championship Individual Time Trial that my Dad first noticed Roy. He was driving the following car for Cycle Lab cycling star, Lynette Burger. Just before the start of Lynette’s ITT, my Dad, an ever supportive and proud Dad, knocked on Roy’s window. Slightly startled, Roy winded down the window and asked how he could help. With not much time to spare before Lynette’s start, my Dad only managed to get Roy’s contact number at the time.
The conversation went something like this
Not having a manager present in East London, I had no access to the managers meeting before the National Championships Road Race. Aware of this problem, my Dad called Roy the evening before the Road Race. The conversations went something like this:
My Dad: “Hi Roy, my name is Johan, I knocked on your window at the time trial yesterday.”
Roy: “Oh yes, hello Johan, how can I help you?”
My Dad: “Do you know Ashleigh Moolman?”
Roy: “Lynette, do you know Ashleigh Moolman?”
In the distance Lynette replied.
Roy: “No, we don’t know Ashleigh.”
My Dad: “Well, Ashleigh is my daughter and she is taking part in the Elite Women’s Road Cycling Championships tomorrow. She is cycling for the Western Cape Cycle Lab team. She doesn’t have a manager or support car. We were wondering if there is anything important we need to know and if you could help her if she needs any assistance?”
Roy: “Yes, we will look out for her and will do our best to help where we can.”
The start of something great
And that was how the relationship started, a simple conversation between my Dad and Roy before the National Road Cycling Championships in 2008.
On the day of the event, I had a terrible ride. Lack of experience and nerves meant I dropped my chain twice at very crucial moments in the race. Roy, aware of who I was following my Dad’s conversation with him the night before, kindly stopped to help. Dave Pieterse, the team mechanic at the time helped me to get going again. I still remember Dave’s words to me on pushing me off after the second time I dropped my chain. He gave me a big push and said, “just never give up!”
Those words still stick with me today. When things get hard, I always think of how I didn’t give up on that day. I kept fighting back, and although I can’t even remember where I finished, the important thing is that I finished the race.
After the race, Roy came up to me to introduce himself. It was on that day that the start of a great relationship began. I joined the Cycle Lab professional women’s cycling team at the end of 2008.
Looking ahead to the Games, I am truly grateful for the role Roy has played and continues to play in my cycling career. He is the reason I am in Europe today, and the reason I will be representing my country on 29 July and 1 August in London, at the Olympic Road Race and Individual Time Trial respectively. His forward thinking, hard work and commitment cannot go unmentioned.
If there were Olympic medals for tireless support, hard work and encouragement, Roy would definitely win gold! Thank you Roy for your amazing support!