Toni Mould rides to the top of cycling
2 December 2019
By Khumo Moyane
Toni Mould is a 35-year-old para-cyclist from Stellenbosch. THISability caught up with the athlete who has cerebral palsy over a lengthy email interview to discuss the world of cycling.
When did you start cycling?
I started in 2013. A friend of mine was cycling for Team SA and had been inviting me for years to join a local league but I never had time and the support to start cycling. I reconnected with her after the 2012 Paralympics and at that stage I was looking for something to get me active again. So after the December holidays I got a tricycle and started training with another friend for a local league race in February 2013.
Do you enjoy the sport?
I enjoy cycling out on my trike, but I also enjoy the training and trying to push myself to be the best cyclist I can be. The sport has given me so much. I have made friends, travelled, and increased my physical, emotional, and mental health.
What motivates you as a person with disability?
My Christian faith has a lot to do with my motivation. I believe I am here for a reason and I have a purpose. I have been through a lot in my life and I want to make a difference in society in terms of bringing awareness and understanding between people with disabilities and the general public.
Is cycling competitive despite what others may think about disabled sport?
Definitely! At international level, where I have the privilege of racing, it is almost as professional and competitive as ‘abled-bodied’ sport. The time, effort and money which people put into the sport demands results. People put their bodies on the line for a win, and you can often see the scars and broken bones that proves that these athletes will go to the limits to pursue their sport and the win.
What are you goals?
My goals are to keep improving my results, stay healthy, travel, make a difference for the next generation of people with disabilities, and perhaps win a few medals and accolades along the way. I would love to be selected for the World Championships this year in September and next June. My ultimate aim is to be at the 2024 World Championships because that will be the first combined World Championships for able and disabled cyclists but I am open to where life takes me.
What do you aim to achieve through cycling?
I cycle because I enjoy it and feel healthier when I cycle. I would like to bring glory to God and awareness surrounding the abilities of people with disabilities. I have always wanted to travel and see different places so to do that while representing my country and making those who know me proud, is an ideal mixture.
Any major competition you’ve entered?
I have won National competitions but as I am the only person in my class, I don’t really judge myself on those wins. In 2015 I took part in the [Union Cycliste Internationale, the official administrators of para-cycling] Para-cycling Road World Cup hosted in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. In 2017 Pietermaritzburg played host to the UCI Road World Championships where I won a silver medal in my road race. Last year I took part in the World Championships again, this time hosted in Maniago, Italy. The international racing season for this year is still underway. I have just returned from taking part in the World Cups in Italy and Belgium.
How many accolades have you won?
As mentioned above I have a few National Championships medals and one World Championships medal. I have a few certificates from my club that I cycle for and last year I won the Cape Winelands sport award for Sportswoman of the Year with a disability.
Does the sport strain you physically and emotionally?
At times yes. After a particularly hard training session, or when I am tired (I have cerebral palsy which also leads to chronic fatigue) and don’t feel like training, or when I have to say no to social times with family and friends, then it does become a strain. Not knowing where the finances for my next trip will come from can also be a stressor on many levels.
Where do you get your mental strength to continue even when you’re tired?
It really goes a long way with your motivation when you are doing something you love. I have always been a very determined and hard-working individual so I guess I use that in my cycling as well. The fact that my cycling has helped me healthwise, both mentally, emotionally and physically, it aid me to keep me returning to training. I have also learnt the importance of rest time and time off the bike at certain times during the year, which allows me to give my best when I am training and to keep enjoying it.
How does one join the disabled cycling fraternity
That can be a tricky one. We don’t really have a club or group training sessions etc, because we are all in different classes and live all over SA. Right now, para-cycling is mainly an individual pursuit and then we all see each other at National Championships and overseas competitions.
What advice would you give future cyclists?
Get a solid bunch of supporters and advisers around you. People who want to see you succeed as a person in life as much as an athlete, and will invest in you. Train consistently and smartly instead of hard training in bursts. Finally, enjoy the journey (the training, the small surprises and joys) rather than just focusing on the wins and medals.