I used to become rather annoyed when being asked to donate for various causes. That changed when I started doing this most incredibly rewarding job of managing an Olympic hopeful and seeking funding for his journey to Tokyo 2020.
You see, I then became that person asking for funding! Funny how things turn. Jean Spies has a dream of making it to the Tokyo Olympic Games to inspire the next generation to believe that anything is possible. But boy oh boy are we up against it! Jean is an athlete with immense talent, work ethic, dedication, commitment, desire and pure stubbornness. He is a champion both on the bike and in life. He is a man of faith, is kind-hearted, courageous, funny, inspiring, loyal, friendly and a general all-round good guy.
Jean has taken on the task of meeting the sporting codes criteria to qualify for the Olympic Games. Track cycling is a sport that is widely watched but not so widely understood. It is a sport that spearheads technology and pushes the limits of science and human physiology. Track Cycling is a basic sport, teaching many necessary skills but it is also the leader of “tech” developments in the world of cycling and as such being competitive and on the podium at world level events requires investment.
Track cycling is akin in many respects to Formula One racing, there is new “secret tech” at almost every major event and never revealed in its entirety – making the catch-up game a bit harder each time. Although the riders/athletes are the main focus, every bit of marginal gain counts when there is less than a second between 1st and 20th place – this is the difference between going through to the next round or going home.
Why did Jean choose this particular sport? Cycling has been his passion since he was little, his true interest has always been going fast in circles. As crazy as it sounds, he could have been anything else. Literally, he is one of those annoying people that can do pretty much any sport and be really good at it, but cycling, and specifically track cycling, is where Jean has found his calling. Jean and I had deep discussions about starting this journey. We knew it would be hard. Although we have a massive cycling community in South Africa, the truth is that very little is known or understood about Track Cycling. We have wanted to change that view but have been met with quite a substantial number of challenges. The main of course being funding. We do have a personal donor for funding, however, this is not a permanent arrangement.
Pretty much all major international Cycling Federations have a track cycling program but our cycling federation is unfortunately not in a position to help us, and we knew this going into this journey and we are reaching out to the broad cycling community, the weekend warriors, the guys and girls who just love the sport for donations. We appreciate all the support and everything counts, click here to DONATE.
A Day in the Life of an Olympic hopeful
For two years or so the daily routine is strenuous. Jean will wake up and go straight into a training session of 30 – 45mins. Have breakfast then do a second training session of about 3 hours. Then after an hour or two, commence with the third session of 3 hours. This is a normal day. When he is not training he is eating and recovering for the next session, because his sessions are high-intensity workouts.
Jean has adamantly said he wants to be fast enough at the Olympics to stand on the podium and represent South Africa with the aim being to inspire the next generation into believing that anything is possible.
I think this is incredible, inspiring, courageous and just plain awesome. I know how hard he has worked, and his results are proving that we can do it, its just a matter of getting the right financial support to finish this journey to Olympics in August 2020. I hope this blog has given some insight to what we are trying to achieve. If you would like any further information, please drop me an email. Cheers.” – Brigitte Mileson.
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