ONE of the longest running sporting events in Namibia, the Nedbank Cycle Challenge will be held for the 37th year on Sunday, 12 February.
The race was first held in 1986 and over the years grew to become one of Namibia’s foremost sporting events.
It produced numerous champions who went on to gain international recognition like Mannie Heymans, Dan Craven, Costa Seibeb, Alex Miller, Drikus Coetzee and Vera Looser, while Nedbank Namibia over the years broadened its support to become the leading sponsor of cycling in Namibia.
At yesterday’s launch the Minister of Sport, Agnes Tjongarero said that sport played a vital role in the development of the nation.
“It bring people together, promotes a healthy lifestyle, and fosters a sense of national pride. The Nedbank Cycle Challenge is a prime example of this principle, as it not only showcases the beauty of our nation but also encourages Namibians to lead active lifestyles and take on personal challenges,” she said.
“As we embark on the New Year with great enthusiasm, it is important to remember the message of our president regarding the ‘Year of Revival.’ This year is about reigniting the strength of our nation and looking towards the future with renewed hope and optimism. The president’s message highlights the need to reignite the strength of our nation, and sports plays a crucial role in this resurgence,” she added.
Tjongarero said the Year of Revival required Namibians to come together and shape their future as a nation. This includes investing in sports infrastructure, promoting grassroots sports development, and encouraging greater participation in sports. It also includes supporting its athletes and teams as they represent the nation on the global stage.
“As the Minister of Sport, I am proud to say that sports in Namibia are thriving. This is a testament to the hard work and dedication of our athletes, coaches, and administrators, who have proven time and time again that they have what it takes to compete on the world stage,” she said.
“Namibia first participated at the Olympic Games in 1992, and we’ve sent athletes to compete in every Summer Olympic Games since then. And most recently, in the world of cycling, Namibia caught the attention of the world after some brave performances by our cyclists at the Tokyo Olympic Games in 2021,” she added.
‘Importance of sport cannot be overstated’
Tjongarero thanked Nedbank for their investment in sport, saying that the importance of sport in the development of education can not be overstated.
“Studies have shown that children who participate in sports perform better academically and have better attendance rates. In Namibia, we have seen firsthand the positive impact that sports can have on education. Thus, programmes that promote the integration of sports and physical activity into the school curriculum must continue,” she said.
This year’s race will cover various distances from 20km and 30km to 60km and 100km, starting at Nedbank Campus, on the corner of Fidel Castro and Rev. Michael Scott Street, and finishing on Independence Avenue in front of Zoo Park.
Nedbank Namibia Chief Financial Officer, JG van Graan said that Nedbank was proud to contribute towards the development of cycling in Namibia.
“For 37 years now, we’ve proudly sponsored this competitive cycling event, which has helped foster some truly spectacular bikers-in-the-making over time. We have welcomed more than 1 000 riders in recent years, making this one of Namibia’s most outstanding showcases in the area of athletics. Namibia’s growing reputation as an enthusiastic cycling nation in Africa has seen the country participating in the Olympic Games and hosting the African Continental Mountain Bike (MTB) Championships, as well as races sanctioned by the International Cycling Union (UCI),” he said.
The Nedbank Cycle Challenge co-sponsors include Windhoek Pedal Power Cycling Club, Coca Cola Namibia, Namibia Health Plan, and PayToday.
Van Graan said that cycling also held important lessons for individuals and nations.
“One more valuable life lesson that cycling can teach us as a nation is not to give up when the going gets tough. I have witnessed first-hand the grit and determination that cyclists display as the terrain gets tough and when the finishing line is in sight,” he said.
“Economically speaking, Namibia is by no means out of the woods yet, despite the fact that there are early indications of recovery after a horrifying global pandemic. Be assured, however, that even when things appear to be impossible, there is always a way to get around them,” he added.
“As a result, my outlook for the coming year is one of cautious optimism. No matter how challenging something may initially appear to be in 2023, we need to keep in mind that if we put our minds to it, we are capable of accomplishing anything,” he concluded.