Andrew ‘Needles’ Neethling is a South African Pro Downhill Mountain Biker. He has always been sporty, competing in many different sports as a youngster including hockey, rugby, cricket and tennis. His father used to race bikes and started taking Andrew to ride after his training rides on weekends.
Andrew then went on to compete in a few local races, trying his hand at both XC and DH, and preferring it over his other school sports. Unlike most DH Mountain Bikers, Andrew never raced BMX or moto from a young age. The first time he competed in a race was when he was a teenager at 13 years old – and it was a mountain biking race. His father always encouraged and supported him, the family travelling across the globe for Andrew’s races. Andrew competed in the Junior World Champs three times as a kid. His father, aware that international experience would assist Andrew with his professional career, took him to a World Championship in Austria. The following three years, Andrew raced NORBA in the USA as well as a few World Cups, which he still believes really made his career. He was assisted financially in the first year by Global Racing and Honda/Turner assisted the next two years. Even though money was tight, it was clear that Andrew was talented and he managed to secure a place in some of the ‘Top Ten’ categories at World Cups in only his third year of elite racing, and won a NORBA, beating some big names in the industry.
Not only is he making waves in the mountain biking industry, but he has also partnered with a friend and trail builder, Jan van Schalkwyk, to develop and build a trail park/bike park in his hometown, Somerset West. They are using their own funding in order to get more people riding mountain bikes and to encourage the growth of the sport – on the same mountain where Andrew started riding. See www.facebook.com/helderbergtrails for more information.
Style is important to Andrew when riding, making him a firm favorite in the media when it comes to photographs.
Leatt Gear: DBX 6.5 Neck Brace.