Mokgopo started cycling over a decade ago in his hometown of Diepsloot, turning professional three years ago and specialising in mountain biking. He’s achieved so much in his career already and is still pressing forward to break even more boundaries.
The 24-year-old is currently studying towards a degree in Sports Science at the University of Pretoria. We chat to him about his background, his passion for cycling and his community, and the endorsement deal with luxury activewear brand le coq sportif.
Can you tell us a bit about your background?
I grew up in a township in the North of Johannesburg called Diepsloot and started cycling about ten years ago. I joined a programme in which they taught us how to build our own bikes, and as a graduate, you got to keep the bike you made.
Thanks to that project I was introduced to Simon Nash, the founder of the Diepsloot Mountain Bike Academy. He introduced me to mountain biking and racing, and subsequently became my mentor.
Where did your passion for cycling come from?
I’ve always loved sports, but I’ve also always wanted to do something different, that I felt would challenge me. I’ve done athletics, cricket, soccer and all that, but as soon as I was introduced to mountain biking I was addicted. It’s not just about getting to the finish line, it’s about the relationship you have with your bike, and the sport is also extremely challenging.
What was your family’s reaction your choice of sport and career?
My mother was not keen at all in the beginning. When I was younger, every time I would go ride I always came home bleeding, so she saw cycling as one big hazard for me. They didn’t understand because mountain biking is not seen as a sport in the township, you know?
But when I turned pro and began racing locally and internationally they started to see the bigger picture, and they’ve been very supportive. My younger brother has also started riding now.
How do you feel about being the new brand ambassador for le coq sportif?
It’s one of the biggest things that has ever happened for me, and I’ve been trying to get this for almost a year. I’ve always looked for something that will help me grow my brand, and my ambassadorship with them is going to do just that.
I’m not just the ambassador to receive clothes and to go for photoshoots; they want to help me with many of the projects I want to get involved with to give back to my community. That’s what matters the most to me.
What does this endorsement mean for your career?
As much as I love cycling, it’s not my only passion. I think this deal will help me diversify, and will feed into my other interests. Fashion has been one of my passions since childhood, and le coq brings the world of fashion and the world of sports into one, which has been amazing. This will also put me on a platform where I can become a marketable personal brand
What are some of your plans for the future?
My biggest vision is telling my story to every child out there that doesn’t come from the most desirable of circumstances. I want to tell those children that as hard as it looks, it’s something they can do. I want them to know that nothing is impossible.