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I have noted, albeit with great appreciation, that cycling has become one of the prominent sports in this beautiful Kingdom of eSwatini as evidenced by the MTB races which attract a lot of people.

As I pen this piece, preparations are already underway for the eagerly anticipated third edition of the MTN Khemani Classic Charity Cycling race slated for Mankayane on October 11 this year.

With a E200 000 sponsorship courtesy of MTN Swaziland, this year’s event promises to be much bigger and better as even international cyclists are expected to grace the event.And of course, it is really gratifying to note that local cyclists have vowed to outclass the international cyclists during the race.

Prior to this race, cyclists will have to battle it out for the championship in the Ngwenya Glass MTB Challenge scheduled for July this year, and no doubt, the cycling faithful will be left yearning for more. Interesting indeed!

It is now apparently clear that cycling is one of the fastest growing sports in the country and the passion shown by the many people is a positive factor indeed. Already we have had a fair share of the entertainment in the cycling fraternity courtesy of races like the Mdumezulu MTB Challenge, Ezulwini Essential Hardware Cycle Classic, Nhlangano National Championship, and Imvelo MTB Classic.

Now we live to tell the tale how young Sifiso Mhlanga defied all odds to become the first Swazi cyclist to win the Nedbank Imvelo MTB Cycle Classic at Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary recently. The Imvelo MTB Classic has definitely proven to be a prestigious event in the cycling calendar and one cannot help but applaud all the relevant stakeholders who play a significant role in giving the sport the much-desired attention.

As much as I am an ardent football person, I have been keenly following events in the cycling fraternity, hence I could not resist the temptation of expressing my views about the sport. Worth noting is that cycling provides a positive impact in almost every aspect for everyone associated with the sport. Apart from the tourists’ attraction, another significant factor is that the cyclists are kept healthy and fit while competing for honours in the process. In essence, most of the proceeds from such events are directed to charity organisations, something that makes life easier for the destitute fellow Swazis out there.

The unrelenting support from companies is also a testimony that cycling is gaining popularity from people in all different walks of life. How I wish we could have sustainable development structures to nurture the talent at a tender age especially in schools where we can effectively promote the sport. Who knows, maybe we can be a force to be reckoned with even in prestigious international competitions like the Commonwealth Games where we compete against some of the world’s finest.

I am made to believe that the Cycling Association of Swaziland (CAS) together with all the stakeholders are doing something to take the standard of cycling to greater heights, and hopefully in the not-so-distant future we will have a formidable national team to compete against the best the world has on offer.

Comfort Jele,

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