A podium finish at the Tour de France is the ultimate dream for 20-year-old Michaela Maneville.
The Grade 12 pupil is a member of The Sports Trust’s Schools Development Cycling Programme at Scottsville High School.
Michaela says cycling has been an integral part of her life.
She is the only girl on the school’s cycling team and hopes to inspire other girls in her community to take up the sport.
Earlier this month she celebrated her birthday with a friendly team race with cyclists from around Kraaifontein.
Michaela says her team pushes her to work hard every day, as she wants to become a top-anked rider in the world.
She believes that with the help of the right people she can realise her dream of lining up at the prestigious race in France.
“The fact that I am a girl cycling means I have a point to prove – that girls can also do what the boys can do,” she says.
Michaela says the cycling bug bit her when a couple of her friends at school were preparing to go to training. Their excitement pumped her adrenaline.
She didn’t have a bike at the time. And, it would take her six months to get a donation for a bike.
Michaela says her family and teammates are her biggest supporters.
“The highlight of my cycling was making my mommy proud. The places I have been to, the podium stands and the people I have met, have been amazing. It improved my confidence and my ability,” she says.
Michaela trains four days a week, on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.
During the week, after school, it’s physical and short distance training. Her example of short distance training is 50km to 60km. And, on Saturday, at 5am, she and her teammates from Kraaifontein cycle 104km and more.
“Other girls get demotivated because the guys are always fast, so you are always under pressure as a girl. But they push us to be at our best,” she says.
Michaela says in the next five years her ambitions are to go professional while making a name for herself.
“If someone out there can give me an extra hand and help, I can become a successful, hard-working cyclist. I’ve worked so hard and I want to be remembered as one of the girls to wear the yellow jerseys at the Tour de France,” she says.
Michaela says she looks up to her teacher, Frank Fortuin, an avid cyclist.
Fortuin says Michaela is a disciplined, hard-working pupil and a role model to other pupils.
“She always gives her best. Despite many challenges, she is still focused on making a success of life. I salute her for that.”
Fortuin says she also applies the same discipline and commitment to her cycling.
“She is the only female rider in the group but she is not intimidated by that. She can also give the boys some competition on the road at times.
“I am very proud of Michaela as a representative of The Sports Trust cycling group. She is a real lady and determined to make a success of her life,” says Fortuin.