Alzude Britz: a girl with some serious talent
01 January 1970
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Brad Brown: Welcome onto this edition of Old Mutual Live, great things start here, great things start now. Just the other day we spoke to a youngster that’s doing some amazing things on a mountain bike, Frank du Preez, but right now we’re joined by another one, except she’s two years younger, Azulde Britz. Welcome, nice to chat, welcome onto Old Mutual Live.
Azulde Britz: Thank you for having me, I’m really honoured.
Juggling exams and mountain biking
BB: You’re most welcome. I had to ask you, you’re smack bang in the middle of exams, as we speak, thanks for taking the time to chat to us, how many more have you got to go as we record this?
AB: I actually only have one more left, so I’m very happy for that, then I can finally get onto my bike.
BB: Do you have to not ride at all, are your folks pretty strict, when it’s time to study, it’s time to study?
AB: Yeah, I try, but you know, I can’t help myself, every now and again I go for a ride. But I try and stay off my bike and focus on school work during exams.
BB: It’s a great way to de-stress. Well, let’s talk about your riding, cause that’s what we wanted to speak about today. You’ve been able to achieve some amazing things so far and before we get into some of those achievements, let’s talk about where it all started for you. When did you start mountain biking?
Riding a bike and showing potential from a young age
AB: I actually started when I was round about nine and my dad always used to go cycling and I always wanted to join. So after lots of convincing, he finally bought me a bike and I started riding with it.
BB: When did you realise you were pretty good at this?
AB: Probably when I was about 12, my first year I actually grabbed a few podiums and I saw that I could actually go somewhere with it. Last year went really well and I think that’s probably when I noticed that I can actually make moves on this sport.
BB: What do you love about mountain biking?
AB: Probably the adrenalin rush you get, but also the views and the places you get to see with the sport.
BB: What would you say is your strong point? Obviously there’s riders that love climbing, there’s some that love descending, others that love the real technical stuff, what do you enjoy most?
AB: Funny enough, I’m actually really good at climbing. So I quite enjoy races with lots of climbing, but I’m not going to lie, descending, that’s probably my favourite part of it.
Potential showing through results
BB: Cool and let’s look at some of your achievements. You mentioned 2014 being the year that you realised, hang on a sec, you’re actually pretty good at this, you went pretty well at the Cross Country SA Cup, tell us a little bit about that race.
AB: Ja, so in 2014 I actually started doing cross country and my season started doing Cascades. My first race didn’t go exactly as planned. But you know, leading through the season it started picking up and I was lucky enough to win the third cup at Mankele last year. I did really well for the rest of the year and last year I was also selected to go to the high school weekend, just like I was this year. I think that’s probably a really big stand out point in my career for me.
BB: You’re also Gauteng Cross Country Champion 2014, the sub junior category, that must have been a pretty cool achievement and something you’re pretty proud of?
AB: Ja, that was probably my favourite part of the year, it was a really good race and I was overwhelmed with happiness that day.
BB: Let’s talk about 2015 because you’ve had a breakthrough of sorts in 2015, you’re still young, you’ve still got a long way to go in your career. But from a road and time trial perspective, you really put your marker down, you’re the Gauteng Road and Time Trial Champion in the youth category for 2015, it’s off the mountain bike, but it just shows you’re strong on a bike.
AB: So, mountain bike is my main focus but I tried out the road this year and I’m really enjoying it. Being the Gauteng Time Trial and Road Trial is a really cool way to start my year. Then being able to go to SA’s and podium in both of my races for my first time, I think that really set it out there that I can juggle both disciplines.
Signing for a team at a young age
BB: Tell me about your agreement with Team Bestmed ASG, that’s something you must be pretty proud of, particularly for how old you are. There’s still a long way to go and there’s lots of time to ride bikes, but to pick up a contract like that, so early in your career, you must be pretty chuffed.
AB: I’m chuffed beyond. So, signing with a team at such a young age is really a big surprise to me. Obviously with last year, me working hard and having the aim of signing with the team; I was really happy to receive the call. As you said, I’m still very young and I have lots of time to ride my bike. But I think signing with this team is like, specifically at this age, will help me develop as a rider and be able to go further in the future.
BB: Who do you look up to as far as mountain bikers in South Africa are concerned?
Mountain biking role model?
AB: I honestly look up to Yolande Speedy. I was with her last year in her Mountain Bike Academy and she’s taught me so much. She’s such a good role model to me and she’s always there to show me that hard work really does pay off. Once you put your head down and you just go for it, you will get the result that you want.
BB: Azulde, as far as school work and that goes, what do you enjoy doing when you’re not on the bike or if you’re not training? Are you pretty academic or is it a case of, you know what, I have to go to school because I need to finish school. I just want to ride my bike, how does it actually work for you?
AB: So some days it feels like torture going to school, but I do believe that academics are very important. So I try and make as much time available for studying and if I’m not riding and going to school, I must say, I’m probably out chilling with friends or going to movies and just having fun.
What are your future plans?
BB: What do you want to do, obviously I’m guessing you want to turn pro when you’re finished with school. Are you planning on studying? I had a chat with Mariska Strauss the other day and she’s studying. She’s a great mountain biker, but she’s studying as well. Are you planning on studying and riding at the same time? Or as soon as school is done you’re going to hit this thing as hard as you can and see if you can make it big time?
AB: I think after school I’ll probably give it a year or so and really try and go with the cycling, but I also would really like to study and have something to fall back on. Let’s be honest, you can’t really cycle for your whole life. So I’d like to come back and be able to study and have something that I can carry on further after my cycling.
BB: Azulde, in your cycling career to come, what are some of your immediate goals? Looking ahead to 2016, what are you hoping to achieve?
AB: For 2016 I’m hoping to at least have one or two SA titles. I think for the long term future, I’d really like to represent South Africa at a national level and ultimately, obviously, to the Olympics.
BB: So cross country is definitely up your alley, that’s what you really enjoy doing. Do you think you’re going to stay with cross country or would you switch across to marathon stuff later on?
AB: At this moment I really like cross country. So I think I’m going to try and stick with it for as long as possible. But doing a marathon race every now and again does show variation and stuff, so probably later on I’d like to switch over.
BB: Fantastic, Azulde Britz, thank you so much for joining us here on Old Mutual Live today, much appreciated. Loved hearing your journey, best of luck for 2016, I hope those national titles do come to fruition and we look forward to seeing you in the green and gold representing South Africa on the international stage. I have no doubt it’s going to happen.
AB: Thank you very much for having me and for all the support.