The Woman at the End of the Olympics

Rio 2016

It was strange that life just went on. It wasn’t just that the racing was over or that I was back home. It was the fact that the Olympics had been a part of my daily life for four years and suddenly it wasn’t. Even though it wasn’t the focus every day, “Rio” was the guiding reason for every training session, every race, and every goal. Now that it was over, I felt empty.

Right after Rio, I came home only to head up to Sweden. It was straight back into normal racing and, after the hype and stress of the Olympics, “normal” felt better than ever. I found an anchor with the standard logistics of regular trade team racing and familiar faces of my teammates. Life was moving forward, business as usual, and I appreciated the comforting familiarity more than ever…but I still wasn’t over the Olympics.

Downtime Rio 2016

Most of me had moved on but there was this lingering part that was unsettled. It was the part of me that thought about the podium every day. The part of me that would analyze the course and play out attack scenarios. The part of me that was fueled by a great sense of purpose that gave reason to everything. Sport always celebrates the end results, and I’ve made my peace with outcome of my races. What I’m not over is the abrupt end of a four year journey that became a central part of my identity.

Who I wanted to be was the reason so many people rallied behind my goals and who that woman was, was a medallist. It was a collective effort between coaches, managers, athletes, family, friends and even supportive fans to get the woman I needed to be ready for the Olympics. Our project was utterly engulfing and by the time I arrived on the start line, I had transformed into that woman. I had put the work in, I had made it to Rio, I believed I could medal.

Rio Olympics Road Race

*Photo credits ©Tim De Waele
*Photo credits ©Tim De Waele

Most athletes go home from the Olympics as losers. I’m one of them if you’re measuring by medals, but there is value elsewhere. A medal is actually such a small part of the process when you think about it. Even when an athlete does medal, the value of their win is often qualified by their journey, the struggles they endured and success they achieved, to become a winner. We often hear it’s “the journey, not the destination”. That’s a platitude that doesn’t seem to apply to the medal-driven world of the Olympics and, yet, we often acknowledge it’s the origin of value. Why was I so quick to write off four years because of one moment? The woman that came to the Olympics may not be a medalist, but that didn’t mean her value had decreased.

It’s truly impossible to reduce my Olympic journey down to a number on a results sheet. I may not have gold, silver or bronze around my neck but I am the woman I needed and wanted to be to win a medal. I’ve grown a lot in four years as an athlete, friend, wife, sister, daughter, teammate, woman, and as a human. I’m thankful to have been shaped by a collective of intelligent coaches, trusting managers, driven athletes, supportive sponsors, loving friends and family, my unwavering husband, and so many other beautiful and wonderful people. I may have walked away emptied handed but I’m sitting here full-hearted. Cliche or not, the true value of my Olympic experience was in the journey — who I have become — and that’s something you can’t measure in medals.

SA Champs 2016: I’m only human

“Sometimes defeat is way more valuable than success. It’s hard to deal with, but once perspective is realised and the lessons are learnt, it makes you super motivated to come back stronger!”

SA Champs, Road Race, Road Cycling, Cycling, Women's Cycling, South Africa, Durban, An-Li Kachelhoffer
SA Champs, Road Race, Road Cycling, Cycling, Women’s Cycling, South Africa, Durban, An-Li Kachelhoffer

National Championships is always a big day and this year was no exception, especially since I lost my title. Read More

Meet Hazel Magill

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Meet Hazel Magill: 19 year old, South African mountain bike powerhouse from Klerksdorp with a big appetite to perform and hunger to achieve even bigger dreams.

She told me all this in Knysna this past winter where we both happened to be on holiday riding bikes. She had introduced herself to me years ago at a race and I was impressed with her then but now she was even more impressive. She told me about her big cycling ambitions, how she achieved every single goal she set for herself the past two years and how she was finally making the move to Europe this year to ride for a small German team. She was full of maturity, positivity and passion, on and off the bike. This girl had it going on!

I was impressed with Hazel’s plan but, as prepared as she was, I knew first hand what was in front of her and it was tough. It was really tough, physically and mentally. I knew the only way I had survived was with the love and support of the people around me: my husband Carl, my family and friends, committed sponsors, mentoring coaches, friendly teammates and supportive team staff. I instantly decided to help Hazel. I wanted to be part of her support system and fill in the gaps where I could. If she was committed to making the leap, I was going to make sure she had wings.

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I am therefore proud to announce that Hazel is part of the Going for Gold program. Going for Gold is an empowerment project aimed at empowering South African women cyclists with golden opportunities and golden life skills to enable them to become confident, well-balanced and mentally strong athletes and individuals. Through this program, Hazel will receive mentorship from me, my husband Carl and other people of influence, coaching support, race and equipment assistance, help to build a personal marketable brand and provide her with training, racing and networking opportunities.

Helping other young female cyclists pursue their passion for cycling is something that has been very close to my heart for a few years passing. And I’m very happy to finally be in a position where, with the help of my husband, Carl Pasio, and my sponsors we can extend a helping hand to Hazel. We are very proud to have Hazel as our first “student” in the Going for Gold program, and our hope is that the program can grow with every passing year.

Hazel is Going for Gold!

Hazel Magill was the 2013 African High School National Champion, competed at the UCI XCO World Championship in 2013, and claimed many titles as a junior. Entering the U23 category in 2014, Hazel gained experience at UCI World Series events and placed 3rd in the U23 category at SA Marathon Championships. Currently Hazel is in South Africa competing in the local road and mountain bike racing scene, but will be racing in Germany with a women’s team for most of the 2015 season. She is targeting U23 South African Road and MTB Championships with a long term goal of competing in the Commonwealth and Olympic Games. Connect with Hazel on Facebook, Twitter (@HazelMagill1) and Instagram (hazelmagill). For more about Hazel see:

Who is Hazel Magill 

Ride Like A Girl

Going for Gold is a support and mentorship program that empowers female South African cyclists with golden opportunities and golden life skills to enable them to become confident, well-balanced and mentally strong athletes and individuals. This will be achieved by incorporating cycling development, team building, mentorship and education. 

 

One Goal, Five Golds

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I was nervous for South African National Championships this year. Targeting the later part of the season this year, I arrived at Nationals without any racing in my legs since Unite 4 Mandela last year. But, just because I want to finish the season stronger than I ever have before, didn’t mean I wasn’t going to start strong.

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