DATE OF BIRTH
21 February 1992

DISCIPLINE
Cross-country / Marathon / Stage Racing  / Road

FAVOURITE TRAIL
Albstadt,Germany and Wolwespruit, Pretoria

LOCATION
Johannesburg

ABOUT WILLIAM MAKGOPO

I’m William Mokgopo, otherwise known as “The Skinny Hulk”, and I’m a 27-year old athlete, model and motivator. I was born and raised in Diepsloot, Johannesburg, and now I am based in Pretoria where I train with the TUKS High Performance Centre. My cycling expertise is XCO, Marathon and Stage-Racing.

As a young schoolboy, I was a naturally talented athlete with a love for cricket and athletics. But it was the components of an old forgotten bike that I learnt to put together in the local township “Earn-a-Bike” container when I was 14 years old that ignited my passion for cycling.  

My skills on the bike and skinny body were soon noticed by Simon Nash, founder of the Diepsloot MTB Academy. Through the mentorship of Simon Nash and the support of initiatives like the Diepsloot MTB Academy and the Exxaro Development Programme, I began to take the sport seriously and started to compete in big ticket races like the Absa Cape Epic and the SA XCO Cup Series.

In July 2013, I burst onto the International circuit when I was chosen to represent South Africa for the first time at the UCI MTB World Championships in Pietermaritzburg. The following year in May 2014, I was signed to the Kargo Pro Cycling Team, the first UCI registered MTB team in SA.

I have a few career highlights that stand out to me. I have completed the Absa Cape Epic 6 times and in 2017, I teamed up with Phillimon Sebona and we won the Exxaro Development Jersey. This was a huge highlight for me because it was something I had wanted to achieve since I first competed in the race in 2012, and to take the trophy home to Diepsloot was extra special.

In 2015 I won the Momentum 947 MTB Challenge (now sponsored by Telkom) on my home turf which was another pinnacle moment.

In addition to local achievements such as being the 2015 Gauteng MTB XCO Elite Men’s Champion, I have represented South Africa at the UCI MTB XCO World Championships 4 times and twice at the African Continental Championships. When you’re racing in a World Cup, the nerves are on another level! But it’s amazing be on the start line with the best riders in the world and to have the opportunity to travel and visit new countries. I believe these experiences help you to grow as an athlete.

My favourite place to ride Internationally is Albstadt, Germany and locally it would be Wolwespruit in Pretoria and most of the trails in Cape Town.

I am passionate about using my story and platform to inspire others. I am a Graduate of the Laureus ‘Youth Empowerment through Sport‘ (YES) programme and I am a speaker and panellist for Laureus Sport. I have been nominated as a finalist for Sports Personality of the Year at the Gauteng Sports Awards twice. Being recognized as an inspirational athlete overall, and not just as a cyclist, was another great achievement that I am proud of.

My advice to young riders is to remember that your past and where you come from does not define your future. With hard work and determination, you can achieve your biggest dreams. Don’t wait for opportunities to come to you, go out with what you have and make it happen. My future goals are to compete in the Common Wealth Games and the Olympic Games, and to start my own professional team. I am sponsored by Triviron Project Management (Pty) Ltd and Titan Racing.