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A year travelling Europe sparked a passion in Stefan Garlicki that quickly became a professional career in downhill mountain biking. The two-time South African national champion – who placed fifth nationally after only six months of biking – attributes his work ethic and skills at public speaking and maintaining a professional image to what he learned at Curro Durbanville.

After a horrific crash last year while competing in Germany, Stefan – who believes success comes from dedication and working harder than others – placed third in a national championship in May 2019, which was only his first race since having recovered.

He has been travelling the world competing for six years, but fondly remembers Curro Durbanville’s small classes and the sense of connection as all learners in the school knew each other. ‘Although my interest in mountain biking started after matric, the school definitely helped to prepare me to deal with life and gave me the tools to become a professional athlete.’

Among his favourite memories from school is the mischief caused by the cardboard bird named Molly, spontaneously crafted by Stefan’s matric Art class. Molly became the scourge of all teachers – much to the delight of the learners – by appearing on teachers’ chairs, the podium during assembly, and anywhere she would be visible and (slightly) annoying. She was even the subject of a brief hostage situation: ‘When the teachers confiscated Molly, we abducted the staff room’s hot water urn and left a ransom note reading that they may enjoy coffee again upon Molly’s safe return’, Stefan remembers. ‘We got her back, but I don’t know what happened to her after we matriculated.’

Stefan advises learners to trust in their beliefs and to not settle for second best. ‘Work hard and don’t give up, because you will always wonder what could have happened otherwise.’