Somserset West, May 12.
Khayelitsha's Thando Zothe and Phamphama Kepu are the latest two champions to emerge from the Velokhaya Life Cycling Academy.
This past weekend, Velokhaya Elite cyclist, Thando Zothe and Senior Scholar cyclist, Phaphama Kepu delivered impressive performances in their first off-road Duathlon (running/cycling) event, the Cape leg of the Momentum Health Meg3 National Duathlon Series, which was held at Lourensford wine estate in Somerset West on Sunday, May 12.
Phaphama won the Age 13+ Fun event, while Thando was placed in the Top 20 in the Open (19-39 years) category.
These achievements followed the two silver medals Thando and Phaphama achieved in their respective age categories at the Western Province Duathlon Championship in April, their first ever Duathlon. Their performances subsequently allowed both athletes to qualify for the S.A Duathlon Championships held in Potchefstroom at the beginning of May. Unfortunately, due to a lack of funds, only Thando was able to attend the SA Champs. He returning to Khayelitsha with two silver medals.
These two young athletes, who are an inspiration to the Academy's growing membership, are not only making their families and Khayelithsa proud, but they believe the discipline and dedication they have for their sport will allow them to excel into the future, both on and off the bike.
Potchefstroom, May 4.
Thando Zothe was the first member of the Western Province team to arrive at the Cape Town International Airport for the flight to Johannesburg, his first aeroplane trip and a trip that would take him to participate in only his second duathlon race and his first SA Duathlon Championship.
He enjoyed the two-hour flight to O.R Tambo airport, laughing and joking with his teammates. The 180km road trip from Johannesburg to Potch not only provided the opportunity to socialize with his new teammates, but also to ask important questions about the race ahead and obtain advice on how to train for future duathlons.
His arrival in Potch was followed by the official race briefing, dinner with the team and a final briefing on racing fixtures.
Thando says there were times, later that evening, when he thought of pulling out of the race because he felt dizzy and unwell, his body in pain from weeks of hard training. But instead of quitting, he stayed focused, determined to make the Safmarine staff, who had donated money for him to attend the Championship, proud.
At 06h30 on May 5, a very nervous Thando was ready to give the race his all. It was a chilly start to the morning, but thankfully New Balance in Cape Town, courtesy of Barbara Cole, had provided warm clothing for the race.
At 06H50 Thando warmed up with a more experienced teammate who advised him how to prevent time wastage at transition stations.
At 08H00, the Mens 20-24 category race began with a 10km run. At first, Thando managed to remain with the top 10 runners but their pace was simply too fast, and he dropped back. Once on the bike, Thando managed to make up for lost time and was among the first finishers to begin the 5km run, which was divided into two 2.5km laps.
After the first lap, Thando was leading his age group, but unfortunately a muscle injury during the second lap saw him concede victory to Jaco Roos, who finished 1min 8secs ahead of Thando to claim the gold. Thando nevertheless returned to Khayelitsha, triumphant, with two silver medals and the knowledge that he was South Africa's Number 2 Duathlete in his age group.
Thando Zothe wishes to thank Safmariners for their financial support, Club 226 and Western Province Triathlon Association's Anthony Bradford for his motivation and support during the event.
Cape Town, April 7.
The five Velokhaya Life Cycling Academy athletes from Khayelitsha who participated in their first duathlon (run-cycle-run) last weekend can be justifiably proud of their achievements as all five achieved 'top five' positions in their respective age categories.
Despite their pre-race nerves, Velokhaya's Phaphama Kepu and Thando Zothe achieved silver medals, Siyabonga Somchiza a bronze medal, and Siphamandla Poto and Luthando Gqamana fifth place positions in their respective age groups at the Western Province Duathlon Championships held on Sunday, April 7, 2013.
The five riders - who competed in the event as part of their preparations for the winter cycling season - were most surprised by their performances, especially the three elite cyclists, Thando, Luthando and Siyabonga, who raced against athletes who compete at the highest levels of cycling, running and swimming in the Western Cape.
Said Velokhaya's Thando Zothe: "I wasn't expecting to do so well as I had competed in a very strenuous Western Province Road Race the day before - and because this was my very first duathlon."
The Velokhaya riders were extremely grateful to the Western Province Triathlon Association (WPTA), which sponsored their participation in the event. The riders hope their results in this event and their participation in multi-discipline sporting events will be an indication of their determination to use sport to grow as individuals and become champions, both on and off the bike.
WPTA Chairman Anthony Bradford said: "WPTA was highly impressed by the quality of the Velokhaya competitors; they performed exceptionally well considering they had no prior knowledge of how difficult it is to transition from a run into a cycle leg (and then back into a run), all at an intense pace.
"These young athletes and their competitive attitude and commitment to succeed is what makes champions. They, and the four disabled para-athletes who also participated in the event and which included a partially-sighted female competitor, are an inspiration to others."
The Velokhaya riders are now hoping to attract sponsorship that will make it possible for them to participate in more duathlons/triathlons and achieve their dream of one day soon, participating in an Ironman event.