6 Things You Didn’t Know About Nic Dlamini
When Nic Dlamini claimed the King of the Mountain jersey at the 2018 Tour Down Under, he was representing more than just his country and his team… he was another success story from the Velokhaya Life Cycling Academy. General manager Sipho Mono remembers a young rider, gifted from an early age.
“Nic was friends with one of our riders, and would often see our team training in Muizenberg. That’s when he first became aware of Velokhaya.”
“He was nicknamed ‘The Bear’ by his mom. We got it from her.”
“He would often sleep in the clubhouse overnight when there was a race to go to the next day, because he lived in Capricorn Park, a long way from Khayelitsha.”
“When he was young, you’d swear he was lifting weights – you could see his body was that of an athlete.”
“At 16, he needed to make a choice between cross-country running and cycling, because he needed to start honing his skills. But we didn’t want him to feel intimidated by us, and choose cycling just because he was seeing us. I wanted him to be certain about his choice.”
“Nic is not a fluke, and his victory means a lot… It means that we are doing the right thing. We may not have all the resources at our disposal, but we use what we have.”
What they do
Velokhaya is a non-profit organisation based in Khayelitsha, Cape Town, that uses cycling-based programmes to involve township youth in a positive after-school activity, with a strong focus on education. ‘Velo’ is ‘cycling’ in French, and ‘khaya’ is ‘home’ in Xhosa.
The academy believes in the aspirational team element of cycling, and that it also gives the youngsters a chance to experience more than just their immediate environment.
Who do they appeal to?
The programmes are aimed at young people, from school-going age up to their early 20s, and focus on BMX and road cycling.
How do they survive?
A combination of private and corporate donors has helped Velokhaya become a top-class facility.
Besides Nic Dlamini, who else has Velokhaya produced?
Former pro rider Luthando Kaka is a Velokhaya graduate, and is still involved with the club; while Songezo Jim became the first black South African to compete in a Grand Tour, when he took part
in the 2015 Vuelta a España.