Road cyclist Ashleigh Moolman Pasio (far left), South Africa, participated in her first Olympics this year in London. She finished 16th and was the top South African in the 2012 Olympics. Though injuries have slowed her down (she once broke her collarbone three times in 12 months), it hasn’t stopped her from excelling in cycling. Read this exclusive interview that Sports Spectrum partner 2K Plus International Sports Media had with Moolman Pasio. Read Moolman Pasio’s Olympic blog here.
She broke her collarbone three times in 12 months before the Olympics, yet bounced back
Q. Start in cycling?
A. Always played sports, and dreamed of the Olympics, but didn’t know what sport would get me there….field hockey, and the more traditional sports like tennis, gymnastics, studied chemical engineering at Stambosh University. Studying was hard to make group practice times…met my husband Karl and he introduced me to endurance sports, tried triathlon, duathlon, and that forced me to focus on cycling.
Q. Tell us about your career.
A. Started in 2008 as an amateur….did first national championship in 2008, and that was sort of the point where I decided I needed to take this seriously, and at the end of 2008, I joined a so-called professional team in South Africa, but in comparison to European teams, it is more of an amateur team. I cycled for them in 2009 when I was completing my engineering degree…and that year went really well, other than the injury. I showed potential, and that’s when I made the decision to take it more seriously in 2010, and go fulltime professional.
I have a very active mind, and I’m always thinking of new ideas or new things to keep myself busy. I have a personal website and I try and blog…In sport, I understand how important the mental aspect is.
Q. How did your Christian faith begin?
A. I’ve been a Christian since a little girl…(My husband) is newly saved. I’m not perfect by no means, and I’ve made mistakes, but I’ve always relied on God to give me strength. Taking my cycling more seriously, and as a professional cyclist, I actually find that it strengthened my faith. I come from a hard family background. My parents are divorced, so my faith has definitely gotten me through many tough times, but through cycling, I’ve just realized, even to a greater extent, how great God is, and I really, really relied on my faith to keep me going. Especially when you have a year of three collarbone breaks, a space of 12 months, it’s really not easy, and if I didn’t have faith in God, I think I would have given up. But just knowing that God has a plan and that things happen for a reason and although His plan is not always the same as your plan, just to have faith that things will, your timing and His timing will eventually meet, and it’s just about having the patience and trusting in Him; so the injuries and everything has definitely brought me close to God. Having said that, I like to give glory to God in the good times. So, that’s my goal in the sport. Professional sports is not often seen as a Christian environment; it’s often seen as a very self-centered environment, so that’s something that challenges me to show that you can be a serious athlete and not necessarily be selfish and materialistic. There is a Christian side to it. I definitely would not be where I am today without God.
Q. How do you manage grow in your Christian faith, especially when you are away from your family back in South Africa? What do you do to maintain that growth?
A. I think the best way to maintain your growth in God is obviously to reflect in the Scriptures and so that is definitely what I do on a daily basis is look to the Bible for strength and for guidance. And obviously prayers are also an important part. I often find myself praying on the back, especially in the races, that’s often my best time with God is while I’m racing. It keeps me calm knowing that God is with me knowing that He is going to give me strength and that He is looking after me. That’s the only way to get through it and to keep your faith strong, is to keep referring to the Bible and through praying.
Q. Do you have fellowship with other Christians, in the village here or with others on your team?
A. It’s always a challenge, the lifestyle I’m leading…especially living in Europe. Europe is a very religious part of the world, but they’re not necessarily practicing Christians. It is hard obviously to go to churches in other languages so that is something that is rather unfortunate and I do miss. When I am home, I obviously like to go to church to experience that fellowship side. But other than that I am very fortunate to have family that are very strong in their faith, and my husband as well, so in terms of that, we like to share some time discussing verses…or sharing things that God might have placed on our hearts, or experiences, so I rely mainly on my family when it comes to fellowship…And obviously teammates, it’s really nice to have teammates. We’ve had many a discussion on the Bible. We’ve all shared out thoughts, so that’s wonderful as well.
The interview was conducted by Sports Spectrum partner 2K Plus International Sports Media, a Christian media company based in London that covers sporting events throughout the world.