SA’s new BMX wunderkind soaring high

2014-04-24 00:00

FIFTEEN-YEAR-OLD Manqoba Madida flies down the starting ramp with a breathless intensity.

His eyes wide and bright through the gap in his full-face helmet, fully focused. He keeps the bike low over the first jump, the more time you’re on the ground, the more you can pedal and the faster you go. He hits the second jump and launches majestically for a second before landing neatly on the other side.

Madida is going to the BMX World Championships in Holland this July. His father gave him his first bike when he was four years old but he has only been riding BMX seriously for four years and his rise has been meteoric to his current ranking of number three in South Africa.

Despite breaking a collar bone and more recently twisting his wrist, he is very excited for the future. Manqoba has travelled to the Nationals in Johannesburg but never overseas.

He now trains five times a week at a purpose-built track in Giba Gorge, KZN. This track combines Supercross and traditional BMX and is one of just 12 permanent fixtures in the world. Giba Gorge is home to the KZN BMX Academy, supported by the KZN Department of Sport and Recreation. The department played a large role in the construction of the track. The academy has 10 riders at Giba with an additional eight based elsewhere in KZN.

There is also the Giba Development Programme that aims to give riders with potential the chance to ride regardless of their financial situation. The programme is currently seeking a sponsor as there is a huge demand for expansion. There are over 80 applicants to the programme and Tyrone James, the KZN BMX Academy manager, says they have more applications than bikes.

“We have partners in Cycling KZN, KZN BMX, KZN Sports & Recreation & Giba Gorge MTB Park but we really need a big sponsor on board.” James says that the benefits of BMX are broad. “It really gives them an outlet, something to put their energy into. It’s a healthy sport and helps to keep them away from drugs.”

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