30 years of Animal

Throwback Thursday interviews - catching up with Greg Minnaar

15 Jun

A new millennium dawns and the Animal Orange mountain biking team welcomes a fresh recruit, the name is Greg Minnaar. The young South African will fly over to the UK and settle in Poole for a few years, sharpening his skills amongst the most in-demand downhill team of the early 00's.

Fast forward a few years and Greg now sits on top of the MTB world. He has scored 7 World Cup victories at the iconic Fort William course and with 20 World Cup wins overall, claims the status of ‘most successful downhill racer of all time.’

As we celebrate our 30th year, we wanted to catch up with Greg on his time in the Animal Orange team, read his interview below.

Greg Minnaar reminisces on the Animal Orange days

Date signed with Animal?

I signed with Animal in 2000.

What was playing on the radio?

Probably the Real Slim Shady, I think it was pretty big back then.

All the cool kids were wearing…

All the cool kids were wearing hoodies, which is not exactly something that we wore back then in South Africa in the heat. I remember I thought that was pretty rad to have a hoodie.

Greg Minnaar reminisces on the Animal Orange days

The bike to ride was?

The bike to ride was an Orange—the Animal Orange Missile. It was one of my favourite bikes. I’ve still got it actually!

Favourite-ever piece of Animal gear?

My favourite piece of Animal gear was a windbreaker, which I saw last week in my cupboard! It’s crazy how it’s managed to survive the time, but it’s a pretty cool little windbreaker.

Most memorable Animal trip?

I had a lot of memorable trips. I think one of my favourites was probably going to Japan, every time we boarded a flight, I was sitting next to Tim Ponting, and he’d snap the cable for my headphones so I couldn’t watch any movies! Honestly, I had to ask the air stewardess three times for new headphones cause he’d ripped the cord.

Greg Minnaar reminisces on the Animal Orange days

Best teammate?

The whole team was really cool; you know, Tim Ponting, Steve Geall, Adele (Croxon), Rob Kitch, Steve Kitch, Kev, Joe, etc… It was such a cool team everyone got on so well, it really was a good time. It was a great experience to be brought into the world of mountain biking. Being in the team definitely helped me want to pursue becoming more of a professional mountain biker.

Teammate with the most annoying habit?

I don’t really remember anyone having any bad habits. Maybe I was just too stoked being around it that I didn’t really get bothered by anything!

Greg Minnaar reminisces on the Animal Orange days

Behind the scenes antics that we never heard about?

Behind the scenes antics, uhm, it was a long time ago. We used to eat a lot a fast food and all we used to do is go dirt jumping. Steve Geall and a whole crew of guys, it was either a Burger King, McDonald's or KFC for lunch. I remember whenever we went to McDonald's we had to take the gherkins out and we’d throw them on the window.

Impact of Animal sponsorship on your career?

Animal gave me such a great footing; the whole team was run really well. It was like the perfect introduction into the mountain bike world, in terms of how much fun we had and all the riding we did. But then also the side that allowed me to race to the best of my ability, and step onto one of the biggest teams in the world.

I think that the Animal team was really powerful with its marketing. Growing up, I’d follow quite a few of the UK magazines, being South African we didn’t get much press from around the world, but we used to get Mountain Bike UK, and I remember it was maybe Bryan, Geally and a few others who were all there. Then Tim Ponting came on to Animal, I remember thinking what a neat team it was. It was really pro, really cool sponsors, great image… And I just thought “ah it’d be great to be on that team” and then a couple of years later I ended up being on that team, which was a big thanks to Dave Wootten from Tioga, and Steve Kitch for putting that together, it was cool!

Animal career highlight?

My Animal career highlights were… I think I got two 5th places at World Cups. I got a 5th in Vale, and I got a 5th in Caprun. Oh man I think back to those times, going to Vale with the team, we had such a good time. Traveling back then with that group was a good laugh. I also got 2nd in a NPS, don’t know if that counts for much… That was good.

Watch Greg's latest video masterpiece, 'This is Home'.

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