Hard work pays off: Sisipho Willy from Matthew Goniwe High School is prepared for the race. Picture: SUPPLIED
Hard work pays off: Sisipho Willy from Matthew Goniwe High School is prepared for the race. Picture: SUPPLIED

Three high school road cyclists from Khayelitsha and Manenberg on the Cape Flats number among the 50 high school cyclists selected from schools throughout the Western Cape to participate in the Oudtshoorn Inter District Youth Cycling Festival from June 25 to 28. The Western Province squad will be selected from this group and announced on June 28.

Two of the cyclists, Sisipho Willy, 15, and Vuyolwethu Nkomo, 17, are from Matthew Goniwe Memorial High in Khayelitsha, and Chadwin Andrews, 18, is from Phoenix High in Manenberg.

The three competed in Oudtshoorn for the first time in 2017 and were selected to represent Western Province at the nationals in 2017. They plan to be selected again this year.

The three cyclists are part of the 15-strong elite squad in the Sports Trust Cycling Development Programme, which Nedbank has funded since the start in 2005.

The programme has taken the sport of cycling into 12 under-resourced high schools and their communities in the Western Cape, notably the Cape Flats, Kraaifontein, the West Coast and Boland. Each year, about 220 development cyclists participate in the programme.

Leading by example: Elite cyclist Vuyolwethu Nkomo from Matthew Goniwe Memorial High is part of the Sports Trust Cycling Development Programme squad that will compete in Oudtshoorn. Picture: SUPPLIED
Leading by example: Elite cyclist Vuyolwethu Nkomo from Matthew Goniwe Memorial High is part of the Sports Trust Cycling Development Programme squad that will compete in Oudtshoorn. Picture: SUPPLIED

"I am well prepared this year as there are a lot of climbs in the Oudtshoorn area. While I am cycling I think ahead and tell myself that it is not going to be easy but that I can do this and get good results and that my team members can do the same," says Nkomo.

Andrews says: "I feel excited and a bit nervous about Oudtshoorn. Last year was such an experience for me as it was my first time there and I was selected for the SA Champs along with several of the other elite squad cyclists.

"This year I know what to expect and I’ll be pushing myself mentally and physically. To prepare myself, in addition to my training, I watch a lot of motivational videos because your mind plays a big role in this sport. If your mind fails, your race fails."

Andrews joined the cycling programme five years ago with a group of his friends. "I am fortunate that my mom and dad are very supportive of my cycling. They see that I am keen on the sport, that I take it seriously. I see a career in it and it is also incredible to race in different parts of the country and to explore new places. The views in many of the places where we train are beautiful.

"I’ve been doing a lot of training on the road and in the gym, as it means a lot to me to be selected and to race at the provincial and national level. I did well in Oudtshoorn last year but I didn’t do as well as I wanted to do at the nationals, so I want to do that this year."

Willy is the youngest cyclist in the trio and his mother is supportive of his racing ambitions: "He loves it and he works so hard at his training. He wakes up early in the morning and goes to gym and cycling training. He is also doing well at school, and I advise him every day to first pay attention to his books and then go and do his training," says his mother, Nokuzola Willy.

"There is exceptional talent in our participating schools and communities, and these three cyclists have earned their saddles," says Mike Tippett, the cycling development manager for The Sports Trust. "To be selected to go to Oudtshoorn requires not only talent but immense commitment. These three cyclists only started cycling seriously two years ago and they are showing what can be achieved."

Madiba was a keen athlete who kept fit all his life, including all the years in prison. He believed in the power of sport to inspire all people and to change the world.
Tobie Badenhorst
Head of group sponsorships and cause marketing at Nedbank

Every afternoon and on weekends they do 50km to 90km of road cycling in addition to gym training. Their programme includes nutrition, mental development and professional input from the Sports Science Institute of SA. All 15 members of the elite squad are on this programme.

Tippett says that over the past couple of years the programme has seen vast improvement in the all-round performance of the development cyclists. This led to the creation of the elite squad in 2017.

"It is so inspiring to see ever-growing numbers of cyclists, like these three young men, competing at this level, and we are especially proud to be part of this cycling development programme in this centenary year of the birth of Nelson Mandela," says Tobie Badenhorst, head of group sponsorships and cause marketing at Nedbank.

"Madiba was a keen athlete who kept fit all his life, including all the years in prison. He believed in the power of sport to inspire all people and to change the world. Madiba said, ‘sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to the youth in a language they understand. Sport can create hope where once there was only despair. It is more powerful than government in breaking down racial barriers’.

"These three men are a symbol of this. They come from under-resourced environments and they have shown what they are made of, not only in their cycling achievements but also in their school performance.

"We wish our cyclists and all those competing in the Oudtshoorn Youth Cycling Festival the best of luck."

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