Interview with Oliver Munnik

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photo: NEIL KLEB
  1. Do you remember the first bike you road when starting out in mountain biking?

For sure … it was a green Trek 4500 hardtail with 100mm front fork.  My twin brother Si had the red/orange version.  We raced our first downhill and XCs on them in 1999 in Tokai and Stellenbosch. They certainly weren’t the best bikes available, but they allowed us to get into the forest and develop our skills.

  1. What’s your favourite cycling memory?

It would have to be travelling Europe with Si in the summer of 2009. After working a ski season in Meribel we were given a station wagon and had two Morewood Shova trail bikes shipped over to England from where we drove back onto the continent and free-camped for 4 months riding the most amazing trails in and around 20+ ski resorts. It was truly unforgettable.

  1. How long have you been riding competitively?

Since 1999, so that’s almost 20 years now.

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  1. What was your last big race you competed in and how did you do?

2017 Cape Epic. I cycled with a friend of mine who has improved dramatically to achieve a top 80 result. It was great to have helped him achieve his goal of a top 100 finish.   

  1. Biggest achievement in cycling?

Rather than it being one single result, I reckon my biggest achievement is having competed on an international level in various disciplines … Downhill (2003 World Championships), XC (Multiple World Cups), Marathon (Wines2Whales winner and 8 time Epic finisher), Enduro (2x Trans Provences) and Road (3x Giro del Capos).

  1. Are you looking forward to Wine 2Whales and what is your desired outcome?

Ja, I always look forward to the W2W. I’ve been involved with every edition and it’s incredible to see how the race has grown from strength-to-strength since 2008.

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  1. Is the industry well sponsored?

Yes. Events are very well supported as we have a participatory mentality in South Africa and the big brands want to reach these riders through their sponsorships.

  1. How did your relationship with adidas begin?

In 2007 I was part of Team William Simpson/ Trek, which was sponsored by adidas. After visiting the global headquarters in Herzogenaurach, Germany that year I got a first-hand experience of adidas’s ethos, which is underpinned by putting the needs of the athlete first. This mentality really resonated with me and I’ve been proudly wearing the 3 Stripes ever since.

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  1. What is it like riding with your twin?

Si and I have been able to share countless memories while riding together and it’s proven to be the perfect way to spend quality time with your best friend.

  1. Does it help or hinder having an “in-house” rival?

I reckon it’s a good thing, as long as it’s constructive. Competitiveness or sibling rivalry should never override friendship.

  1. What are the opportunities for aspiring riders who would like to see themselves riding professionally?

These days, aspiring racers need to focus on building a personal brand that speaks to both endemic cycling brands as well as non-endemic brands like adidas. Credibility plays a big role too, and it helps to develop relationships with your sponsors so that’s it’s not a case of just getting ‘free stuff’ – there has to be a win-win approach.

In terms of becoming a professional rider, given the economic climate I’d say young riders should focus on sponsors who can give them opportunities to race and gain experience, which is the most effective way to improve.

  1. Where can your followers find you? @twitter @instagram etc.

@olivermunnik on the gram and twitter


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