Team SA profile: Ashleigh Moolman Pasio

16 July 2012

Ashleigh Moolman Pasio recently finished in the top 10 of the Giro d’Italia Internazionale Femminile, the toughest stage race in women’s road cycling. Another huge challenge awaits her at the 2012 London Olympic Games.

She is one of three South African women selected to compete in road cycling at the Games. Her Olympic team-mates, Robyn de Groot and Joanna van de Winkel, are also members of the Momentum Toyota cycling team, and they competed together in the Giro for the Belgium-based Lotto Belisol team, so they know one another well.

That’s an important point to make because cyclists seldom win without good support from their team-mates, and it will be no different in London. “Together, anything is possible and I look forward to the challenge come 29 July,” she wrote on her blog after learning of her selection for London 2012.

‘Something special’

The entry was entitled “A Dream come True: London 2012” and she expressed her thoughts on the magic of the four-yearly spectacle, saying: “As a young girl, I always marvelled at the thought of the Olympic Games. It has always been something special to me, an event that has captured my imagination.

“I would watch the different athletes taking part in their respective sporting disciplines with admiration and respect. I have always dreamed of going the Olympics, but now it has become a reality!”

She added: “When I think of the Olympic Games, I think of hard work, commitment, passion; people of all ages, genders and races coming together to share in their victories and defeats.”

Love of cycling

Moolman Pasio discovered her love of cycling at Stellenbosch University where she met her husband Carl Pasio. He was a serious triathlete and through him Moolman Pasio discovered endurance sports.

She gave triathlons and duathlons a go, but struggled with knee injuries. It was then that she decided to concentrate on cycling, a decision she says “I will never regret”.

Despite her focus on cycling, Moolman Pasio did not allow it to get in the way of her studies. She achieved seven distinctions in matric and has become a qualified chemical engineer, but her current profession is that of a professional cyclist.

Continuing improvement

Her recent 10th place finish in the Giro d’Italia Internazionale Femminile underlined a continuing improvement in her performances. Her previous participation in the race resulted in a 17th place finish in 2010 and 13th place in 2011.

Last year, her results included winning the African Continental Road Cycling Championships in Eritrea and finishing second in the time trial.

She placed sixth in the Emakumeen Bira Tour in Spain, an event that has attracted the world’s top talent over the years, and claimed the Queen of the Mountains’ polka dot jersey.

Dominance

Moolman Pasio dominated the domestic scene, picking up victories in the Momentum 94.7 Cycle Challenge, the MTN OFM Classic and the Amashovashova Cycle Challenge. She also finished second in the Cape Argus Pick n Pay Cycle Tour. This year she won the race.

Her ambitions in 2012 are greater that last year’s, but as she wrote on her blog, the Olympic Spirit is best expressed in the Olympic Creed:

“The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.”

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