From no-hoper to golden boy
When he first hopped onto the saddle of a bike as a slightly chubby 14-year-old, Lebope Mompe only had one thing on his mind: to get fit and shed a bit of puppy fat.
Four years later and the Mmadinare native’s rise up the ranks has been truly remarkable, transforming from enthusiastic no-hoper to one of the hottest prospects in local cycling.
Speaking to Voice Sport moments after his triumph at the Covid-19 Sprint Series last month, Mompe’s appetite for the sport is obvious.
“I started cycling solely to lose weight. I competed in numerous races and I enjoyed myself even though I always finished last!” recalls the Tsela Riders member, smiling brightly at the memory.
“However, the passion for the sport grew and I started to put more effort at training. Things quickly elevated as I had great belief that I can become the best cyclist one-day,” continued the 18-year-old phenomenon.
“My premature cycling career took a huge step forth when I competed and won different races in the youth ranks.
I was the youth Mountain Bike (MTB) Champion and got to represent the country at the 2019 Continental MTB Cross-Country Championships held in Namibia. I gained immense experience as we jumped off ramps which is something that we do not normally do this side.”
As for his latest success at the Covid-19 Sprint Series, Mompe said he was just happy to be back on his bike and competing again.
“This race was mainly to test my fitness because I used the lockdown time to really up my game and it paid dividends because my coach was always on my case to improve!”
Divided into two categories: MTB and Road race, the competition ran for three weeks and came to a thrilling end on Sunday 26 July, with Mompe sealing victory and the P650 prize money in a dramatic finale.
“It was a hard race and that is explained by the fact that I won it on the last day; it was a privilege to come out victorious in the end! However, I still have a long way to go as I am still on a learning curve,” said the teen sensation, who completed his Form Five last year and is planning on studying Industrial Psychology at University.