AT 14, rising cycling starlet Nesta Charles exudes confidence normally expected from athletes twice his age as he lays out his future dreams and aspirations in his first interview with a newspaper.
Charles and eight other cyclists from UniMills Hokoyo Cycling Club have just finished a gruelling 60-kilometre practice ride ahead of a major internationally recognised competition scheduled for South Africa next month.
They make their final stop at a house in Burnside suburb and B-Metro Sport is privileged to get an impromptu interview with the young lad before he is instructed to take a well-deserved rest by his coach.
When did the cycling bug bite him?
“I was eight years old when I got my first bike and I realised that I was faster than kids my age, something that pushed me to ride with older guys.
“A year later, I joined Flying Eagles Cycling Club and I took part in a few races under them such as the Falcon College Cycling Challenge. I have never looked back since then,” said Charles.
This year, the young lad was signed by UniMills Hokoyo Cycling Club, an ambitious cycling team that is barely two years since its formation early last year.
How does he balance school and cycling?
“I’m a Form One pupil at Northlea High School so I concentrate on school work during weekdays and on weekends I practise with the team. It’s a routine that I’m now used to so I don’t have difficulties balancing cycling and school,” he tells us.
The youngster already exhibits the zeal to conquer the world when asked what his ambitions are at UniMills Hokoyo Cycling Club.
“I want to win a lot of races, here in Zimbabwe and abroad. I have already won two races since I started cycling a few years ago but I want to win more and make my club proud,” he said.
His coach, Chris Kazingizi, agrees that the young cyclist has a bright future ahead of him.
“The future of cycling is bright with young riders like Charles who are so passionate about the sport and we have no doubt that he will go places and make UniMills Hokoyo Cycling Club proud.
“At only 14 years old, he has so much to give to cycling and by the time he reaches the age of 21, he will be a phenomenal rider, in my opinion,” said Kazingizi.
The team is preparing for one of the most prestigious races in Africa – the Discovery 94.7 Ride in Johannesburg next month.
It’s the first time a Bulawayo cycling club will be taking part in the Discovery 94.7 Ride, a race that attracts between 20 000 to 30 000 riders annually, competing in a 94.7 kilometre race in the streets of Johannesburg.