• David Sanmi

Former gang member living his dream in the Tour de France

Nick Dlamini Courtesy of AFP

What will you do if you see the local gang member in your neighborhood riding in the Tour de France?

Inhabitants of the Capricorn Park township in South Africa were in that same position when they saw Nic Dlamini on TV participating in this year’s edition of Tour de France.

The former neighbors however are in for more pleasant surprises as Dlamini is billed to take part in the upcoming Tokyo Olympic.

For the records, Dlamini is the first black South African to contest in the Tour de France, the flagship bike racing event. It was enough achievement for Dlamini to receive a congratulatory phone call from Springbok’s Rugby club captain.

The twenty five year old has come a long way from his less than peaceful childhood. Dlamini might have left his hometown as a teen but he still has memories of trying to rise in status in street gangs.

"In the township itself, you'd be well known for owning a gun," he tells AFP. "You'd be more respected for owning a gun or shooting someone. It's a place where doing the wrong things gets you up there.

"Growing up you'd see from a young age that the kids wanted to get involved in gangsterism because they see everyone looks up to the gangsters."

But now, he hopes to inspire the younger ones still in Capricorn Park to avoid a life of crime. And he believes his story is already doing that:

"When they announced the Olympics (his own selection for the Tokyo road race) it started changing things, teenagers wanting to turn their lives around. It gave them hope that anything is possible. And when they announced the Tour it was even stronger."

Dlamini had been interested in sports as a kind especially the World Cup and Tour de France. He even trained with his first bike as a fourteen year old.

The professional cyclist fondly remembers his time in South Africa, calling it ‘lot’s of good memories.’

He would eventually immigrate to Italy and grow in his profession.

Dlamini is sure he has the support of his former neighbors and his family, especially his mother. He is married with a five-month old son.

We are proud of Dlamini and hope his journey inspires more younger one to make something good out of themselves.

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