By Ilan Herrmann
I sat riveted as I watched Ethan Williamson scream around the bend, balancing his bike at an acute angle, then straightening and accelerating hard on the thick soil surface, after which he approaches the hill and lifts into the air before hitting the dirt gravel and racing through to the finish line.
It’s not often you see an eight-year-old displaying an array of qualities such as control, stealth, mental focus, and determination with such natural finesse but Ethan does and it’s for this reason that he is currently well at the top of the leader board of the SA Motocross Championship Series.
Ethan, a Grade 3 pupil at Herzlia Constantia Cape Town began Motocross at age five after watching the sport on television and persistently asking his parents to get him a bike and get involved in the sport. His talent immediately emerged as he came 3rd in the very first race he competed in. This, while racing against older kids aged seven and eight.
Ethan trained hard, fine-tuning his skill through many hours of riding and attended regular races. Dividends paid off and he has already ignited the 2019 Championship with multiple wins and has a 15-point lead at the top of the standing board as at the time of writing.
The lead has qualified him along with three other riders to represent South Africa at the FIM Africa Championship on 31 August in Zimbabwe where he will compete against Africa’s best. He is the youngest qualifier.
Ethan’s sterling run so far this season in the SA’s has been consistent and impressive. Results from the different regions: Western Cape — won two races and came 2nd in the third race. Port Elizabeth — won both heats. Bloemfontein 2nd in race 1 and won race 2. Johannesburg – 2nd overall.
Ethan is encouraged in the pursuit of his passion by his parents and siblings who travel with him to his races. Ethans dad and mom, Warren and Cali, ensure it’s a progression that is coming from Ethan. “We make it clear that it is his choice and it is not something we put any pressure on him to do. We will support him in whichever direction he chooses to take,” explains Warren.
“Herzlia have been unbelievable!” says Warren. “At assemblies Ethan is presented with the medals and trophies he’s won. When he is forced to miss school days due to race events, the school helps in every way to ensure he doesn’t fall behind and he has been given a lot of positive attention and encouragement by pupils, staff and teachers.”
The sport is quite expensive as you ideally need two bikes in case one falters and travelling expenses for families can be costly. Cali however explains that it has been an investment in that the sport and its outings with its family trips have been great bonding experiences for the family for which she is grateful
Ethan has many passions. He loves Soccer, Mathematics, Drumming, Choir, and Cricket, but Motocross trumps them all at this point. His coach says he has the makings of a great rider, particularly because of his mental toughness. He has an uncanny ability to rally from a disappointment and turn it around.
Although it is a while away, Ethan’s eventual aim is to reach the FIM Junior Motocross World Champs in 2022 where he would compete against the World’s best.
Ethan was recently interviewed by Good Hope FM. His parents express how proud they are of his character and the person he is being a humble gentle and well-rounded person. In an interview with FIM Africa, Ethan described the two rules the family holds by when it comes to racing: Rule 1. Win or lose we always have FUN. Rule 2. We win or we learn.