His dream was to compete in the Olympic Games, now that dream will be realised when Nicholas Dlamini heads to Tokyo to participate in the quadrennial spectacle.
CAPE TOWN – His dream was to compete in the Olympic Games, now that dream will be realised when Nicholas Dlamini heads to Tokyo to participate in the quadrennial spectacle.
Dlamini, 25, is a cyclist from Capricorn, near Muizenberg, and this week became one of only three elite South African cyclists to be selected to participate in the Tokyo Olympics.
He will join Team SA when the Tokyo Olympics takes place from July 23 to August 8, representing South Africa in the Men’s 234km-long road race.
Said Dlamini: “I’ve had this dream to get to the Olympics for a long time and made Tokyo my goal. I put everything into focusing on achieving that.
“Growing up I was fortunate to have good role models to guide me and show me the way forward, and I hope that my story is a reference of hope for anyone working towards their personal goals and that it boosts and encourages them to work really hard and dream big.”
Dlamini began his journey toward professional cycling at Velokhaya Life Cycling Academy in Khayelitsha in 2009 when he was 14 years old. The academy offered the opportunity for Dlamini to race competitively.
Velokhaya Life Cycling Academy was established in 2003 with the aim of encouraging young people in townships to participate in an after-school cycling programme as an alternative recreational outlet. Pick n Pay has been its primary sponsor since inception.
Suzanne Ackerman-Berman, director of transformation at Pick n Pay. said: “We are exceedingly proud of Nicholas on his achievement and wish him everything of the best in Tokyo. We will be following his Olympics journey very closely.
“His is a story of hope and evidence that dreams can come true with determination and hard work. I am equally proud of the team at Velokhaya who are providing opportunities so many more to realise their dreams,” she said.
Cycling each day from Capricorn to Khayelitsha to train with his teammates, Dlamini showed a natural talent for the sport early on.
“Nicholas was a boy with drive and determination you don’t often come across and we decided quite early on to focus on his talent and to groom him,” said Sipho Mona-Lekona, Velokhaya Life Cycling Academy’s general and team manager.
“When you cycle, you get the chance to see places and things you never got to as a youngster growing up in a small township. We didn’t have a car growing up, so as a small boy I was very curious and wanted to experience more, and cycling provided that opportunity for me,” said Dlamini.
“I have a strong mindset and always do everything I can to win. I work consistently on being good at everything that I do and I’m not happy until I achieve what I set out to do.”
Velokhaya Life Cycling Academy today has more than 121 youngsters between the ages of eight and 28 who participate in the cycling programme, which involves daily training of between 10 and 16 hours a week, depending on the age group.
Mona-Lekona, whose uncle introduced him to the world of cycling, helped to establish the first black professional cycling team in 2006, which became a feeder to the top team in the country and around the world.
“We had a vision to take our youth off the streets and onto bicycles, and it’s made a world of difference in their lives,” said Mona-Lekona.