Living loud with Liezel

Living loud with Liezel

Sipho lends inspiration to his local community

Liezel van der Westhuizen

By Liezel van der Westhuizen

I recently had the chance to meet an incredible young athlete who does amazing work in his local community of Kayelitsha G Section. Cape Town born Sipho Mona is an athletic 25 year-old who mentors riders ranging in age from 17 to 26 years at Velokhaya Life Cycle Academy. This academy was originally founded in 2003 and Sipho has been there from the beginning.

Sipho made history this past weekend as the first black man to commentate at an Ironman Triathlon, the toughest one day endurance event. There are 33 Ironman events held worldwide.

 

Sipho, you’re the team manager of the Velokhaya cycling team. How did you get involved at Velokhaya?
I started in 2005 when the life cycling academy Ascends was looking to have its first black professional team. I later succeeded in the trials that followed, which were contested by riders from as far as Durban and a team of six riders rode for the Liberty Life Professional Team and made history in becoming the first ever black team in SA to compete nationally.

 

When did you start cycling?
In 1997.

 

Do you have a personal motto that you live by?
Carpe diem (seize the day).

 

What has been the highlight of your career?
Before joining the organisation I rode for the Cape Town-based team CSC as a Junior and won a race in the Senior Scholars category and came second in the Bonnievale event thereafter. Being hosted by Team CSC at the Tour de France was also definitely a highlight.

 

What do you do in your spare time to relax?
I love listening to underground hip hop and chilling with my family.

What is your favourite restaurant in Cape Town?
My neighbour makes the meanest roasties with egg/chicken mayo or mince filling. It’s the best ever.

What stood out for me after my interview with this young South African is his passion for educating and training the youngsters in his community. Sipho has been involved with the academy for almost a decade, and the academy has shown how increased self-esteem and confidence on the bike helps to inspire and equip young people to deal with the difficulties they face in life and help them achieve their goals, both on and off the bike. To date the programme has produced eight elite cyclists, who’ve all competed at the highest level of road cycling in South Africa. To find out more about this great project, visit www.velokhaya.com.