South African team gearing up for world’s first urban extreme relay race
Red Bull Giants of Rio – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – 5 December 2004
Four top athletes, including Olympic gold medallist Ryk Neethling, have just been announced as the South African team who will compete in the Red Bull Giants of Rio in Brazil, on Sunday 5 December 2004.
The Red Bull Giants of Rio is an urban extreme relay race and first of its kind in the world. Bringing together four very different disciplines – swimming, mountain biking, hang-gliding and beach running – top athletes will combine their skill and strength to battle it out in this extraordinary race. The course encompasses ocean, beach and mountain in the steamy city of Rio de Janeiro .
The South African team boasts:
* Swimming – Ryk Neethling – one of SA’s most successful swimmers and gold medal winner at the 2004 Athens Olympics. Born and bred in Bloemfontein , Ryk has just returned to live in SA, having lived in the USA for the past eight years.
* Mountain Biking – Johann Potgieter – up and coming mountain biking champion and 2004 winner of the Urban Assault Downhill race. At just 17 years old Johann attends Bellville High School , Cape Town but originally flew in from East London.
* Hang Gliding – Anton Brown – extreme sports fanatic and one of SA’s top hang gliders. Capetonian Anton’s ability and speed freak tendencies made him a natural choice for the SA team.
* Running – Leeds Mthangayi – current Western Province 10km and cross-country champion Leeds is one of the stronger runners in the country. Originally from Umtata , Leeds is now based in Cape Town where he runs for Mr Price Athletics Club.
The SA team will compete with 80 teams from more than 30 countries at the Red Bull Giants of Rio. With Olympic gold medallists and several world champions taking part the competition will be tough.
“Our team is strong and we’ve got as good a chance as any,” says hang glider Anton Brown. “Some teams have one or two really top athletes but no one has four of the best, so it really is anyone’s race. We are going there to make South African Airlines proud,” he adds.
Ryk Neethling will be first off at Copacabana Beach for a 4km open water Atlantic Ocean swim with a cliff jump thrown in for fun. Next up Johann Potgieter will tackle the 45 km mountain bike route, racing through the narrow streets of inner city Rio, up Corcovado to the world-famous Christ statue, down through the rainforest jungle of Tijuca National Park and up Pedra Bonita. Then Anton Brown will take over, speed flying from Pedra da Gavea to Ipanema Beach , or first catching a thermal around the Christ Statue (depending on weather conditions). Last, but definitely not least, Leeds Mthangayi will run the 15 km sand and city route for a spectacular finish on Copacabana.
The South African team is currently training and will leave Cape Town for Rio on 1 December.