Prominent mountain-biker Stuart Marais was given a career-saving lifeline when he secured sponsorship last week.
Last month Marais, 29, said he might be forced to retire from competitive cycling if he was unable to get financial backing by the end of July.
Marais, a qualified mechanical engineer, said it has been a two-and-a-half year struggle to keep on cycling. He had lived off a severance package after being retrenched by a mine in Mpumalanga in early 2016.
Last week Marais received a phone call from Expedient Africa, a Johannesburg-based executive search and recruitment company, who offered him sponsorship.
Shortly after Expedient Africa decided to become a “partial” title sponsor for Marais, Pietermaritzburg-based Moving Parts Tractor Spares came on board to become his sub-title sponsor.
“Expedient Africa will cover most of my expenses, with Moving Parts Tractor Spares helping out with a small amount every month,” Marais told In the Bunch.
“Now it is just about getting more people on board who will collectively make sure I come out on a monthly basis.
“Things are looking good and moving in the right direction. Things are slowly starting to come together.”
Marais will now be able to focus fully on the SA National XCO Championships at the Happy Valley Conservancy in Bloemfontein this weekend.
The Howick resident said with the new sponsorship he hoped things would be “hunky-dory” next season so he could gear himself up towards achieving his 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games goals.
“I’m going to start concentrating on cross-country specifically next year with Tokyo 2020 in mind,” he said.
“Everything next year will be pushing towards the Olympic Games in 2020; that’s a big goal for me at the moment.
“Throughout the season I also want to take part in as many [UCI Mountain Bike] world cups as I can.
“This opportunity was a good stepping-stone and things are finally starting to look up,” he added.