1 June, 2024

Master takes out world championships

AT 80-years-old, Watsonville man John Leslie is a world champion mountain biker.

Master takes out world championships - feature photo

He recently took out the World Champion title in the 80-84 age category at the UCI MTB Masters World Championships in Smithfield held in May.

Age and wet weather haven’t stopped John from doing what he loves most, with the champion training at the Atherton Forest Mountain Bike Park whenever he can. 

The training paid off for John, with his bike handling skills helping him through to the finish line in 23 minutes and 34 seconds.

John started mountain biking 25 years ago as a way to keep mobile and competed in his first Masters Games in 2015. 

When hearing the world championships were coming to Cairns, he was not afraid to put his hand up to compete alongside some of the best from across the globe.

“I got myself up to a pretty good level of fitness last year, training to do the eight-hour mountain bike in Atherton, Elevate, and after that, it was getting easier,” he said. 

“The bike handling was all I really needed to do to train, so I fitted in what I could in the month leading up.” 

He said he had never expected to secure the title but was proud to wear the gold medal around his neck. 

“It was so overwhelming – I really hadn’t expected to even compete in a world championship until I heard about it last September,” he said.

“I was just determined to do it. Winning has been so humbling I suppose, because I wasn’t expecting to do so well.”

John will now be taking a break from competitive mountain biking and enjoying “no serious training” until next year. 


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