The amazing story of Phetetso and his journey to qualify for Rio 2016 is eclipsed only by the story of the generosity and support of our DreamMakers across the globe.
What started out as a wish to see Phetetso riding his dream bike at the Olympics is becoming visualised day by day as more and more people and brands add their contribution to the project.
The mission started out with a boost from Day One, when supporters from around the world – mostly Sufferlandrians – began donating towards Phetetso’s new bike. The Sufferfest founder, David McQuillen, together with Wattbike UK, kicked off the project by selling off a Wattbike and donating the money to the project ($1,000 AUD). Within just two days, more than $7,000 (USD) was raised – almost double the initial target. (Editor's note: We're still accepting donations - the money raised will ago to the young men and women of the team and every $100 raised will help a rider to support their family for a month.)
But it is not just the cash donations that have overwhelmed us. We are so humbled by the support of our partners in the cycling industry – both here in Africa and globally. Giant Bicycles South Africa has promised a fully sponsored, top-of-the-range Anthem Advanced frameset together with all the other Giant components. They have also offered us a full SRAM groupset at a great price.
The bike will be completed with Forks and Shock from SR Suntour (Germany), two sets of lightweight wheels from TOKEN (Taiwan), Ceramic Bearings for the Bottom Brackets and Pulley Wheels from C-Bear (Belgium), wide-range (9-44) TRS+ Cassette from E Thirteen (USA) and Oval Chainring from Absolute Black (UK). To cap it all off, Stages Power (USA) has sent one of its new carbon Powermeter Cranks to assist him in his preparations. We already have saddles from Velo (Taiwan), brake rotors and cables from Ashima (Taiwan) and chain lube/sealant from Squirtlube (South Africa).
It is not only the bike that will look fantastic at The Games – because our other DreamMakers have also contributed to make sure that Phetetso looks and feels great for the race of his life. Pactimo (USA) have designed a new Team Lesotho cycling kit for the event, Limar Helmets (Italy) have sent a custom-made helmet, DMT (Italy) have supplied a pair of their top-of-the-range MTB Shoes and Oakley (South Africa) will make sure he has the best eyewear. In addition, HIGH5 Sports Nutrition have promised a great selection of Energy products, including drink, gels and bars to keep him fit and healthy throughout his preparations.
We are also proud of the support from our local NOC, Lesotho National Olympic Committee, who despite a limited budget, have promised some funding towards additional equipment needed.
The amazing support we have received is a real encouragement to us and helps to validate the progress we are making as a team. The cycling industry has a reputation of being elitist – but I think this exercise just goes to prove that there are a lot of brands and people who care about the underdog and are willing to make a difference. It is very unlikely that Phetetso will come anywhere close to winning a medal at the Olympics, but what he will do is open the door for others to follow. Maybe one day in the near future, a young boy or girl, inspired by his achievements, will rise up from the poverty and win a cycling medal at the Olympics.
The Sufferfest is the principal sponsor of the ACE-The Sufferfest MTB Team, based in Lesotho. Team Manager Mark West will be updating us with an inside look at this underdog team and Phetetso Monese's quest for Olympic glory. Words and photos by Mark West.
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