Ac­tion Fig­ure


One- on- one with a South African who started at the bot­tom, and made it all the way to the big time.

When hip-hop artist Drake wrote his hit song 'Started From The Bot­tom, he wasn't think­ing of SA cy­clist Ni­cholas Dlamini. But when you hear Dlamini's life story, the song seems made for him. Hail­ing from the poverty-stricken and crime-rid­dled town­ship of Capri­corn in Cape Town, Dlamini set him­self apart from the young hus­tlers and gang­sters in the area to be­come one of SA's most promis­ing cy­clists. He was re­cently moved up from the Team Di­men­sion Data Con­ti­nen­tal squad to the Pro­fes­sional World Tour squad - and could line up with the world's best at the 2018 Tour de France. be­com­ing the first black South African to do so. While that's not set in stone, judg­ing by Dlamini's work ethic, am­bi­tions and 2017 per­for­mance -in­clud­ing a King Of The Moun­tains jersey at the Baby Giro - it's a good bet. Dlamini con­tin­ues to work hard to achieve his goals, and is inspiring his town­ship to cy­cle in the process.

How did you get into cy­cling?

I used to do ath­let­ics, along with some trail run­ning and duathlon. Then, when I was 12 years old, I started cy­cling. Vuy­isa Mgolom­bane, a friend of mine who cy­cled at the time, in­tro­duced me to it. So I tried it, and I just loved it.

What was train­ing like in those early days in Capri­corn?

It was re­ally dif­fi­cult. Some­times I trained on an empty stom­ach, be­cause my mom was the only bread­win­ner. But she’d try her best for us to at least go to bed with some­thing in our stom­achs. I still ad­mire her for all she’s done for us, and for sup­port­ing me. The roads weren’t safe ei­ther, so it was dif­fi­cult for me to start train­ing early. I al­ways had to wait un­til there were some peo­ple around.

Was it strange for the com­mu­nity to see you cy­cling, in your kit?

Yes, very strange, ac­tu­ally – es­pe­cially when I rode past groups of girls! They’d all laugh. But it never re­ally of­fended me. And luck­ily, they’ve got used to it now.

Bal­ance is a big part of your suc­cess. How did you man­age to bal­ance study­ing and train­ing?

It was tough, but I had good, pos­i­tive, struc­tured peo­ple around me, with my best in­ter­ests at heart. I left school af­ter Grade 11 and did my ma­tric year as a home stu­dent, be­cause I was too busy rac­ing; I was never at school, re­ally. But that worked out well, ac­tu­ally – I’m study­ing Sports Coach­ing and Ad­min­is­tra­tion at the mo­ment.

Has your cy­cling suc­cess caught on in Capri­corn?

It has taken Capri­corn by storm! Ev­ery young­ster now wants to ride a bike, which is re­ally a good thing. As one of the more well-known devel­op­ment rid­ers, mak­ing it into a World Tour team, I have shown them that noth­ing is im­pos­si­ble in this world.

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