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Posted on July 20, 2018 at 3:30 AM


The curtains of the National Cross Country Championship are slowly drawing to a close. With two races left on the calendar, riders are looking to salvage every last championship point they can get.

The penultimate round of the season will kick off in Swaziland this weekend. Offroad legend Ross Branch is hot in the pursuit of the OR1 Championship as he attempts to snatch up the prestigious title for the third consecutive time.

Another Brother Leader Tread KTM star with a championship title in reach is Jarryd Coetzee.

His name, which holds the top spot on the OR3 leader board, may seem unfamiliar to some. It’s been an incredible comeback season for the rider who has been sidelined for the past two years due to an ongoing knee injury.

Coetzee will arrive in Swaziland especially confident after snatching up what he describes as the “sweetest win of his career” at the Toyota 1000 Desert Race last month.

We catch up with the rising athlete as he inches towards to the redemption of an OR3 Championship:

It’s been a testing few years leading up to this point of your career. What has been the most challenging thing to overcome?

My biggest obstacle was maintaining a mindset of success. Keeping my goals clear in my mind was tough to keep up during the difficult days. The recovery (both of them) were so long, and I spent so much time away from the racing scene, so the mental side was definitely the hardest part.

What kept you going when the possibility of ever getting back on your bike competitively seemed slim?

Well, I’ve had my fair share of adversities during my career as a whole, and the past few years on a professional team like Brother LeaderTread KTM was the realization of a childhood dream. I’m rubbing shoulders with some of my heroes, so this fact alone helped in a big way. From an outside perspective, my girlfriend Ashleigh played a huge role in being a positive reinforcer. She was with me every step of the way, and that kind of support is invaluable!

How did this season of injury refine you as a rider?

I feel like I was able to refine my entire approach to racing, from training to my mental approach.

I had time to think, time to solidify the “why” I was racing and find my desire again. In many ways I believe I became a better rider through my analysis of both my own riding, as well as some of the best riders in the world through YouTube!

Tell us a bit about what went into getting back to your competitive racing form.

“Racing form” is really a collection of things that need to come together and fit seamlessly. My biggest challenge was obviously both physical and mental. I needed to rehabilitate my knee and leg to a point where I could take the load of full training and riding. That took me seven months in 2016, and then eight months after 2017’s repeat injury.

This involved daily rehab, both on my own, as well as with the team of specialists at Linksfield Orthopedic Sports Centre. The rehab would eventually overlap with my own training which was geared towards getting fit for riding again - that included a lot of cycling, running, some yoga and gym work.

Obviously as the months passed, the load increased, and after about seven months I was on the bike again. The final stages of the process involved a return to sport test with my Biokineticist, which I would have to pass in order to get clearance from my surgeon, and in turn get licensed with MSA again to race.

Just eight months and a couple of days to spare before the first National offroad round in Eshowe earlier this year I passed the test and I was officially back to racing! The mental aspect on the bike to get dialled in again doesn’t just click when you get cleared to race. It is an ongoing process to rebuild confidence!

Now that you’ve had a taste of what you’re capable of again, what are some of your goals from here?

My immediate goal for 2018 is the National OR3 Championship. We’re in the thick of it and in good position to achieve that!

Going forward to 2019 I would love to move up a class and ride a bigger bike. I believe it would suit my riding style to have some more power underneath me and capitalize on being smoother and not having to ride so aggressively to maintain good overall positions. My ambitions for the future are to reach the premiere class in SA, namely OR1, and if the opportunity arises, I would love to do some racing in the US in some of their offroad series.

Do you have any specific approach to the race in Swaziland this weekend?

I’ve raced in Swaziland once in the past, and the forest plantations are the most exciting aspect! I love the trees and single trail riding, so I’m hoping for a route that will suite the smaller capacity bikes and challenge us with tighter terrain!

I have to make an attack from time trial and get a good start position for Saturday’s main race. It’s imperative that you mix it up with the top guys from the start - this gives the best opportunity to hang with them and be in a position to fight for victory at the end of the day. I feel like I’m 100% to go for it, so I have no reservations. It’s go time!

As young riders look up to you and watch your story unfold, what is the greatest lesson you hope to leave for them?

I have been fortunate enough to work with many young riders as a rider coach over the past year. It’s something I started doing while I was injured, and it has taught me so much. If anything, I hope that young riders will see that there is no substitute for pure hard work. There is no short cut to success, if you do the long hard yards, and you keep your dream alive in your mind, you will achieve it! Belief is the fuel, action is the method.

Published by: KTM Media

Picture Caption: Jarryd Coetzee storms to victory at the Toyota 1000 Desert Race.

Categories: FMN News South Africa

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