Ten years after participating in an Olympic Games for the first time, former SA triathlete Mari Rabie (31) has developed an arm-length relationship with sport – she enjoys it, but it doesn’t dominate her life.
When Mari returned from the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing she was bitter. The disappointment of a 43rd place in the competition after her bicycle broke down was so big that she decided to rather concentrate on something else – her studies.
Mari, who obtained her degree in actuarial science at Stellenbosch University (SU), was awarded the Rhodes scholarship to study at Oxford University in 2010 and she obtained both her master’s degree in applied statistics and an MBA degree there.
“I was very young when I participated in Beijing and a big part of my self-worth was linked to my achievements.
“In sport your highs are very high, and your lows are very low. But, after a while you get to a point where you can say: If it hadn’t been for Beijing I wouldn’t have applied for the Rhodes scholarship… you start looking beyond the pain and you learn how to deal with disappointment.”
In 2013 she decided to return to the sport, but was faced with another challenge and disappointment soon afterwards: In 2014 she was diagnosed with myocarditis – she had injured her heart muscle and the only solution was to stop training for almost a year.
“It was difficult for me and I considered giving up my dream and to start working fulltime, but in my head I had committed myself until the end of 2016. I wanted to experience a successful Olympic Games,” she says.
Things went much better at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio and Mari ended 11th. She completed that year’s triathlon season and retired in October 2016.
“I ended my career on a high after my best season to date and I was ready for new challenges. I wanted to start building my career.”
Shortly after her retirement from sport she started working fulltime as the executive assistant of the CEO of Remgro, a position she held in a part-time capacity for a few years. In September 2017, she wrote the first of several exams to qualify as a fellow of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries.
She still participates in sport and completed the Cape Epic and the London Marathon in the past two years.
“I now compete in sport for my own pleasure. I find that I function better when I’m active,” she says.
When she trains, she wears clothes from the athleisure active-wear range MovePretty, which she started with friend and fellow Matie Annelize Kotze a few years ago.
- By Pia Nänny -