Changing Energy, Championing Hope
“I moved from being a community thug to becoming a potential world cycling champion.”Gboniwe Uchenna Shammah
It is a popular saying that sports bring people together, and helps share true love and passion.
My name is Saint, and I come from a part of the world where cultism and gang violence used to be the order of the day. The beautiful part of my story is how cycling gave a lot of teenagers (including myself) hope and helped us overcome our addiction to drugs and gang wars.
The Wrong Path
I am the first son of my father and was supposed to show a good example, but I had chosen the wrong path and was a ring leader in the second most feared cult in my community. I had become a terror to everyone because I was hell-bent on making my cult number one in the community.
The change came when we had a new town leader. He was a national cycling champion from my local government who had delved into politics and was gladly accepted by the people. He introduced us to the game and told us to channel our aggression into competition.
He (our town leader) bought five bicycles and gave it to local teenagers by a raffle draw. I was one of the lucky winners. The joy I felt at owning my first mobile machine was overwhelming. At last, I had found something to do instead of looking for the next shop to burgle or the next young man to harass.
I initially kept my bicycle as a prized possession, and nobody, including myself, rode it.
My first cycling experience came when a message needed to be sent to the neighboring town. Two other winners and I were chosen to go on the errand.
The other two had been practicing with their bikes, so they were good riders. I, on the other hand, was climbing my bicycle for the first time. And I became a laughing stock when I stuttered the first two yards and tumbled off the bike, bruising my shin and damaging my brakes. I was so disappointed and cried in the faces of everyone.
Our town leader took pity on me and sent someone else with a promise to help me repair my brakes and teach me how to ride. I started lessons the next day, and I learned professional cycling in two months.
Three weeks after learning, our town leader organized a cycling competition around our whole community. He also invited potential sponsors to watch the event.
On the day of the event, my mates laughed hard seeing me at the competition. They felt I didn’t belong and didn’t know how to ride. I was the complete underdog.
The whistle came, and I rode as fast as I ever had. The wind rushing through my ears provided added momentum, and I kept going.
It was an awesome feeling when I won by one minute and forty-five seconds! The standing ovation I received that day still resounds in my ear when I think about it.
The State Champion
From there, I was chosen by a sponsor and taken for professional cycling, and today, I am a State Champion. I’m hoping to become a national champion soon. I moved from being a community thug to becoming a potential world cycling champion.
Cycling gave me, and a lot of others from my community, hope. The energy we used to commit crimes is now effectively channeled towards becoming a better cyclist.
I will become a world champion someday!
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