SARAH HILL

“An international CV on my hands, I thought finding a team and finding financial sponsors would be stress free. Boy was I wrong!”

Self-proclaimed, die-hard DIRT fan, Sarah Hill, not only has the dream of becoming a world class mountain biker who earns enough to pay more than just her rent each month, but to hold a PhD in Clinical Sports Psychology and be called Dr. on a World Ranked Podium.

“It is now, however, June 2023, and I am yet to find a financial sponsor.”

Currently, as a UCI and PMBIA certified performance consultant, she provides training programs, in-depth analysis, feedback, MindShift performance sessions and MTB skills lessons, with a strong focus on sports psychology, wellbeing, and personal empowerment.

“I was born active,” she muses.

Having played every sport that she could, she favoured netball and rowing in high school and finally found herself on a bike in her final year.

“Gravel, Marathon, Ultra Marathon, Stage Races (my favourite!), Cross Country, and Short track are all up there.” She names her favourite disciplines.

While in the USA, during her college years, she also competed in downhill and dual slalom.

“I love the adrenaline rush and the risk taking – which grew my desire to explore how far I could go.”

Addiction and depression run in her family and shares that the hardest thing she must learn is that their words and actions are not a reflection of who she is or who she will become.

“The hardest thing was to have the resilience to go against what was often repeated to me growing up. Redefine myself as strong, capable, worthy, selfless, and kind. There was a period after Covid where the pressures were all too much. The hardest part is finding the will to live in the face of adversity.”

What she loves about sport is that it has an incredible way of bringing like-minded people together.

“It is a humbling experience and constantly expands your capacity to perform. The consistency of participating in sport teaches one a lot about themselves and their potential on and off the field.”

Never thinking that it would be possible, Sarah’s standout memory is breaking the Transbaviaans Record with Theresa Ralph in 2018.

“She helped me break through my own mental barriers by showing that we can do so much when we work together.”

Winning the African Leaders jersey at the 2019 Absa Cape Epic is a close second fond memory.

“There is an art to suffering and it’s all about perspective. The where, when, and why are so important in the moment and often in our deepest sense of suffering, we discover the most about who we are, and what we are capable of.”

Rolling up to the big 3-0 milestone in September, instead of buying herself a new car, she has invested in her racing calendar on a global level.

Having tried to start a women’s team, with little success, she has realized just how stressed the South African economy is. Many women are making the same sacrifices to get to the start lines.

Trying for stage race specific sponsorships, which hasn’t taken off just yet, she has focused hard on pushing for individual results, seeing success in performance but not so much financial support.

“Financial sponsorship goes in waves. Some years companies are looking for winners, other times they are looking for influencers, and this year, I believe they are looking for all-rounders. Companies in South Africa are leaning towards riders who can be competitive in all disciplines, who can showcase their brands to the country as a whole and reach out to consumers on a personal and public level.”

Sarah believes that she has what it takes to add all-round value, as a competitor, coach, and ambassador for supporting brands.

Judging by her enthusiasm, zest for life and social media presence, she would be worth investing in.

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