16 November 2012

Namibia: Cycling Legend in the Making

The Economist recently caught up with the vibrant local cyclist, Windhoek born, Laban Naftal who recently came first in the Mariental Duathlon beginners category.

Naftal has been cycling since high school and has become a familiar figure in the local cycling scenery after overcoming countless challenges and set backs throughout his sporting career.

Says Naftal on his humble beginning: "I started cycling in 2003 for Jan Jonker Afrikaner High School in Katutura. There we didn't have any sponsor or any sort of support. We paid our own participation fees for the races that we took part in and the school only provided transport at certain times."

Back then Naftal looked up to Tokkie Bombos who was commonly known as the fastest cyclist in the country.

Although Naftal started cycling in 2003, he says he only took the sport serious the following year as funding was a major setback. Since then, Naftal has participated in countless races such as the National Road Champ 2009 race, the All Windhoek Pedal Power Race Series since 2008 to date, and the Namibia Development Tour. He recently took part in the Duathlon Red Square Race and the Mariental Dualthon where he came first in his age category.

Now nine years in cycling, the 26-year-old Naftal spends his time taking part in various races as well as training and encouraging other young cyclists from the Physically Active Youth cycling program to become the next big thing in the industry.

"I want to inspire many young cyclists and give them a push, just like I was given a little push," he says.

After making his first trip to the London Olympic Games with his cycling team a couple of months ago, Naftal dreams of taking part in the next Olympics and ploughing back into the local cycling community.

Naftal says although there are challenges for cyclists, one can excel and do well in the sport.

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