The Sunday News
Simba Jemwa, Sports Correspondent
AFTER being in existence for a little under two years, Unimills-Hokoyo Cycling Club has gone from riding bikes socially to becoming the strongest and most consistent team in Zimbabwe and is now focused on development of the sport.
Established in 2022 by team principal and founder, businessman Davis Muhambi, Unimills-Hokoyo have now become the de facto national elite, youth and U-23 squad and individually winning events such as Volta A Bulawayo and the 2021 Zimbabwe National Cycling Championships.
Unimills-Hokoyo won both the National Time Trial and Road Race titles in October, the Volta A Bulawayo, took second at the Bambos Road Race which also featured top South African rider, Nolan Hoffman in Harare, won the Tour of the Great Dyke and were strong finishers at the 94.7 Ride Joburg Road Race where Unimills-Hokoyo was the 5th best team.
Muhambi, himself a rider of note, revealed to Sunday Sport that after managing to hold their own and become one of the best clubs in the country, Unimills-Hokoyo is now venturing into junior development as it works to continue to empower local youths and enable them to express their talent and be given a platform to succeed. When it was founded, the club was also targeting to enlist junior cyclists in a development team for boys and girls aged between 10 and 23 in addition to recruiting female adult riders.
“We are going into junior development where we want to open up training to the citizens and juniors of Bulawayo. We are finalising the modalities of how that is going to happen, but a coach is essential for that. We already have one coach, Chris Kazingizi which is why we are sending Nkulumo Dube to Nigeria for a Level Two coaching course and on his return, he will become our second coach. We are going to go into junior cycling where we are going to focus on age groups starting as young as ten years and above, but probably will start a little bit higher, maybe in around 13 or 15 years, all the way to under-23. School-going kids are interested in learning how to cycle at a performance level and we decided to provide them with a platform to achieve this,” said Muhambi.
During the interview, Muhambi also took time to differentiate Unimills-Hokoyo and its local competition.
“We currently do have other clubs in Bulawayo. There is Flying Eagles, Sky Cycling, who are both clubs. But there is distinction between what they do and what we do. As clubs, many ride while we race,” Muhambi explained.
Muhambi also said: “The Unimills-Hokoyo development programme would be designed to feed into what his club does, which is performance or racing. We welcome everyone to that programme, but especially those that will have in mind the desire to outdo themselves in terms of performance. They might not turn professional, but they want to ride or cycle at a performance level, at a high level of cycling. As a result, we’ll be targeting kids to get into that.
“But obviously this programme will come with a lot of social benefits for kids. A lot of our kids are staying indoors these days.
They are always on the internet and they become very antisocial and their social development skills are lacking. But there’s a lot that sport brings with, especially in cycling, to do with health or general wellness of the kids, confidence building and things like that.”
Meanwhile, recently, Unimills-Hokoyo swept the podium at the Flying Eagles 100 Miler Classic, a race from Gweru to Bulawayo. Andrew Chikwakwa and Nkulumo Dube both crossed the line in 3 hours, 47 minutes and 34 seconds in the elite category while their teammate Mthokozisi Sibanda finished the race in 3 hours, 50 minutes and 3 seconds to complete the sweep.
In the boy’s juniors 80-kilometre race, Unimills-Hokoyo junior rider, Charles Nesta finished in 2 hours, four minutes and 36 seconds to claim top spot. Nesta is a Northlea High School pupil who signed for the Bulawayo cycling club last year. Nesta is only 14 years old, but finished second at the 100miler’s 80km race in a pool that also featured elite riders. – @RealSimbaJemwa