Pietermaritzburg - Elite Athlete Development Programme (EADP) member Alan Hatherly’s Olympic dream will become a reality in Rio de Janeiro in August when he represents the South African team in the cross-country mountain biking event at the 2016 Olympic Games despite being just 20-years-old.
Having dreamt for many years of one day representing the country at the iconic multi-sport event, the Hillcrest-based athlete is thrilled to have made the cut for the South American spectacle despite having started his Rio qualification specific preparations just 18 months ago.
“I couldn’t be happier and I’m extremely proud to be given the opportunity to represent my country in Rio,” said Hatherly.
“It has been a lifelong dream to go to the Olympics but this has all happened way quicker than I thought it ever would.
“I had been focused on trying to qualify for the 2020 Olympics and in fact only realised a year-and-a-half ago that there was even a possibility that I could go to Rio!
“Since then though, everything — from my planning with my team manager, Shaun Peschl, and my coach, John Wakefield, my training, my conditioning, etc. — has been geared towards trying to qualify for and then to compete at the 2016 Olympic Games,” added the Kargo Pro Cycling Team member.
Through his involvement in the KZN Department of Sport and Recreation-backed EADP, Hatherly spent some time in Prime Human Performance Institute’s hypoxic chamber last year before following a carefully designed, personalised strength and conditioning programme in their gym as part of his build-up to next month’s Olympic challenge.
A frantic racing schedule for much of the first half of this year also saw the debutant Olympian-to-be placing great emphasis on recovery — another key area in which the EADP provided Hatherly with assistance.
“The EADP has played a crucial role in preparing me for all the races I needed to take part in in order to push for Olympic qualification and selection,” he said.
“I did a lot of important strength work down at Prime while the regular screenings and testing we go through as part of the programme also help us hugely in tracking our physical developments.
“It has also taken a lot of careful management of my schedule in order for me to not only prepare properly for races but also recover sufficiently, especially after it was race, race, race earlier on this year.”
Aware of his early emergence onto the Olympic circuit, Hatherly is keen to gain invaluable experience in Rio ahead of potential future Olympic assignments.
The fast emerging young star is, however, also eager to ensure he isn’t merely a passenger in Rio and instead flies the flag high for South Africa.
“Being selected for the Olympics has happened a lot quicker than I thought it ever would for me and potentially being able to go to three Olympics in my career is unbelievable,” said Hatherly.
“Being so young, the experience of my first Olympics will definitely help me if I’m lucky enough to go to a second and even third Olympics.
“I am definitely going to Rio to compete as best I can though. Having done all my homework, it seems often a lot of the guys actually come into the Olympics a little overcooked so I definitely think a top 20 is a possibility."