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“If you accomplish something you’re allowed to be proud”

“If you accomplish something you’re allowed to be proud”

Photographer:Fotograaf: Joey Roberts

The seven sins of mountain biker Sophie von Berswordt-Wallrabe
  • Greed. I always want to win, to bring home medals. I cycled a lot in my youth and have a bookcase full of trophies at my parents’ place. I was junior Benelux champion and won silver at the Netherlands Championships for newcomers. I want to get the best out of myself; I’m a perfectionist, both in my studies and when it comes to mountain biking. I want to show that it’s possible to both study and be a top athlete. As a result I sometimes push the limits of what’s possible, or what’s healthy. I also love nice things, especially things I can’t afford. So I wait for the sales or I save for things.
     
  • Gluttony. Every endurance athlete burns a lot of calories. I can eat a lot and my weight stays pretty much the same. I eat well and healthily, organic as much as possible. I love luxury foods, like foreign cheeses, good red wine and vlaai or other tasty baked goods. I’m always up for a bike trip with a stop for cake and coffee on the way.
     
  • Lust.I have a boyfriend. They say you shouldn’t have sex before a competition. He doesn’t usually join me at international competitions, so that’s not really an issue. I’m thin, fit and toned – I can be proud of that. But I’m not such a fan of the tan lines from my shorts and sleeves.
     
  • Envy. I’m jealous of women my age who ride professionally and have lots of time to train. They also have the best parts for their bikes, the nicest glasses, clothes and lots of support from their team. Often its Swiss people; mountain biking is a big sport there, it gets a lot of attention and money. That has its benefits. There are lots of Swiss in the top ten. The Dutch delegation is pretty lean in comparison. For example, I have to cook for myself. My father, a cycling trainer, acts as my physio, fixes my bike, organises the water bottles. He’s very important during competitions.
     
  • Sloth. I might come across as lazy because I often take a nap in the afternoon. Cleaning, folding laundry, tidying up my room – those are not my top priorities. Now that I travel I lot I don’t even bother unpacking my suitcase. But when it comes to mountain biking and studying, I’m extremely active. I’ve passed all my courses so far. It’s only next year that I’ll need an extension, because I’ll be taking part in all the European World Cup events. I’ll be abroad a lot from April to September.
     
  • Wrath. If a competition doesn’t go as I’d like, I can get really angry, especially at myself. I often take it out on my father. You can’t talk to me, I’m grumpy, nothing’s good enough. But I’m learning. I now see that I shouldn’t focus on the outcome, otherwise I spend the whole race worrying about where I’m placed. Instead I have to focus on how I’m riding: is it technically good? Then I feel less stressed, enjoy it more and do better as well. I also get mad if I don’t get an 8 on an exam, although I’m improving with that as well. I really want to do well, but I’m getting better at accepting that my sport means I can’t put one hundred percent into my studies.
     
  • Pride. I’m actually quite modest, although I do want to show people what I can do. If you accomplish something you’re allowed to be proud. But I feel that I haven’t really achieved anything yet. What would count as an achievement? If I qualify for the World Cup and finish in the top twenty there. I have no idea if that’s possible. If I don’t make it, I’ll just work harder.

Sophie von Berswordt-Wallrabe, 21, third-year student of Dutch Law. Born in Alkmaar, lives in Maastricht

Trains on average ten hours a week on the bike and at least one hour in the gym. Team member of Liv Theo Schilder Tweewielers. Aiming to qualify for the World Cup 2018 in Switzerland.

Best performance to date: fourth in the Dutch Championships for elite women (“I’m still supposed to be with the under 23s”), first in two races in the Benelux Cup and eighteenth in the World Cup event in Switzerland

This is a series about students who sport at the highest level

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