Manqoba’s sights set on Tokyo

 Manqoba Madida's biggest achievement happened this year while in Europe, where he attended a European Cup in Belgium and finished third!

Manqoba Madida's biggest achievement happened this year while in Europe, where he attended a European Cup in Belgium and finished third!

It’s not often that a rare opportunity crosses our path in life and when it does, it takes a special person to not only realise the opportunity but to seize it. One such special person is Manqoba Madida, who has rapidly developed into a BMX racing sensation in the past eight years.

After receiving an invitation to attend a talent identification camp at the UCI World Cycling Centre (WCC) in Aigle, Switzerland last year, Manqoba’s talent was noticed and he was invited to return to the state-of-the-art facility for the 2018 season, where he has been training under the best supervision and with the latest sporting innovation at his disposal for the past six months. KZN Cycling, through KwaZulu-Natal Sport and Recreation, provided funding for the trip.

His humble BMX beginnings stem from primary school when Giba Gorge Club visited his school and was scouting for learners who were eager to ride bicycles. Having ridden a bicycle since he was four, Manqoba was confident on two wheels and when he later went to Giba Gorge and saw the BMX track there, that’s when he really fell in love with the sport.

“I’m all about sports and BMX is something I’ve always been committed to,” says Manqoba. “Racing has provided many opportunities and my first overseas trip was to the UCI World Championships in Rotterdam in 2014.

“That was big!” he said. “I did really well and got through to the semi-final.”

His biggest achievement happened during his training time in Aigle, where he attended a European Cup in Belgium and finished third!

Under the guidance of his coach Tyrone Johns and father-figure Travis Gouveia, Manqoba has received a solid grounding to prepare to become a professional athlete with his sights set on the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, which is his aspiration. While at the WCC, he is working alongside his coach and BMX Olympian and World Champion Liam Phillips.

Manqoba says that the biggest influence in getting him to where he is today is the people around him. “They’ve been supporting me by all means and making sure that I’m in the right position to become a professional athlete. If it wasn’t for the bicycle I wouldn’t be where I am today and I’m doing everything I can right now to make it to Tokyo.”

His time at the WCC has been “an amazing experience” where he receives the best support that he can get. “I’m definitely heading in the right direction to achieve my goals. The WCC has all the right equipment, provides all the physical training that I need and shares all the strategy of becoming a professional athlete that can go to the Olympics and get on the podium.”

After his immediate goals of SA Championships in October and Afcon in Egypt, Manqoba’s will return to the UCI WCC until December and stay focused on Tokyo 2020. He believes that the foundation that the WCC has provided him has set a clear path to reaching those ambitions.

“I want to use my experience from my time at WCC and continue working hard to reach my goals. It’s a dream come true and it’s all about increasing my performance and preparing for Tokyo. I need to qualify for that and so far, my preparation is going well. I’d like to achieve some wins and make my country proud.”