Soccer. What Soccer?

The power of media. You see, you love, you follow, before know you it, you’re hooked. It can be manipulative. That’s how 18 year-old Thando Myeni was lured into cycling. He is one of a few Naledi teenage boys who don’t take huge interest in soccer. Cycling sets him apart.

Sometimes he has to duck criticisms from detractors. “People tell me that cycling is for whites and that ngisiyenza ngcono (I regard high of myself). But I brush such criticisms aside,” he laments. But these discouragements don’t come as a surprise: big as it is, Soweto has only two cycling teams. Thando’s Medscheme development side has only five members.

He was watching a television when cyclists on screen grabbed his attention. “I told my mother that I loved what I was seeing and would like to own a bicycle,” he remembers. In 2010 his mother bought him a mountain bike and subsequently a track bicycle. This fuelled his ambition to be a rider.
Everyday he cycled along Chris Hani road as part of training and to keep fit. “I was also looking for cycling partners and if possible, a team to belong to. That’s how I met the Medscheme development team and they introduced me to their coach, Bradly Sean-Smith, who took me under his wings. My competitiveness impressed him immensely.”
Unlike most of his peers he doesn’t prefer soccer. Thando says, “Almost everybody in the township is playing soccer and that minimizes opportunities. Most people I played soccer with faded out before they could go anywhere.” He says his first year as an aspiring cyclist he toured different provinces in the country and got to sleep at hotels. The testimony is in a collection of medals that he won at various competitions across the country.
He is in matric this year and it is affecting his training schedule badly. He planned to give the books more attention. Next year he will be fully concentrating on cycling. “Tertiary education will follow after I made my mark as a cyclist,” he says with confidence. His ambition is to be the first black to compete at Tour de France.
Thando believes that cycling can take care of his needs. Already, he rides on a GT Fibre bicycle that costs almost R50 000. He doesn’t pay for his supplements, training machines and the costly professional outfit. He is thankful to his sponsors.

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