The new Illovo Classic Cycling champion Steve Nazombe has pleaded with the corporate world to give him financial and material support so that he can quit his potato selling business and concentrate on cycling.
The 24-year-old defied the odds on Saturday when he broke Illovo race’s record by over 11 minutes after finishing the 115km race in 2:59:59 hours despite the fact that he trained only for a month and it was his first time to compete in the elite category against experienced cyclists such as his runner-up Leonard Tsoyo (3:00:01 hours) and third-placed Missi Kathumba (3:00:02 hours), who was the record holder.
Between 2010 and 2013, Nazombe had been contesting in the ordinary bike section where he emerged champion twice and runner-up once. However, the Blantyre Cycling Club (BCC) cyclist saved some proceeds from his business to buy an elite bike that made him a hero last weekend.
“I believe that I will be able to tremendously improve my record and probably make the country proud at international event if I focused on training as is the case with professional athletes abroad.
“At present, I struggle to have ample time for training because I also have to work hard in my business to make ends meet. The sky could be the limit in my cycling success if corporate companies come to sponsor me,” he said.
Illovo Sugar Company’s national sales manager Peter Mtokale, whose firm introduced the race about a decade ago concurred with Nazombe that more companies need to come in and support local cyclists.
“Nazombe has shown that Malawi has more talented cyclists who just need to be fully equipped and motivated to put the country on the international map. As Illovo helps to identify such talents, other companies should take it from there,” he said.
In spite of that, Mtokale said his company will continue to sponsor the contest and will send the top two cyclists to the Cape Argus Race in South Africa for international exposure. Third-placed Kathumba are assured of a trip to the 94.7 Cycle Challenge in South Africa.