Not-so-delusional Maseti set to break new ground for SA cycling in Paris

By Karien Jonckheere

Miyanda Maseti wants to be an Olympic champion.

She already knew that when, as a plucky seven-year-old, she watched two-time Olympic gold medallist Caster Semenya on TV.

“If somebody told me then that I would be an Olympian, I would’ve accepted it way easy,” reckoned Maseti with a laugh. “I was a delusional seven-year-old so I would’ve been like ‘I already knew that’.”

Sure enough, 11 years later, the BMX star’s name was among those announced as part of Team South Africa heading to the Paris Olympic Games next month.

“I guess seven-year-old me wasn’t so delusional,” she added.

Maseti will become the first South African woman to represent the country in BMX racing at the Olympic Games since the sport was added to the programme in 2008.

“I’m not even going to lie to you, I think I’m more nervous than excited,” she admitted from her training base in the Netherlands, where she will stay until the start of the Games. “This is the Olympics and I need to show why I’ve made it there.”

While the dream of becoming Olympic champion may be a more realistic one for the next Games in 2028, Maseti is determined to impress in the French capital. “My goal in Paris is to do my best and be my best while I’m there,” she explained. “To achieve this goal I need to get myself in the right place to compete at my best ability.

“In order to be good at BMX it takes effort, time, consistency and fun. You will only want to get better if you’re enjoying it.”

Fun it’s certainly been for Maseti, having first climbed on a bike at the age of four because her brother was riding – and eventually racing against boys to make sure she continued to improve.

“I love how fun it is to learn a new skill,” explained the six-time national champion. “I love how much joy it brings. I love the intensity. I love the confidence it gives and I love the lessons it teaches.

“I wish that people knew that BMX isn’t as harmful as people think. Everyone is so afraid to fall, but it’s a part of life. Why not fall, doing something you enjoy?”

Catch Maseti on 1 and 2 August when she’ll be in action at the Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines BMX Stadium in Paris.