Tristan de Lange, a rising star
At the age of 18, Tristan de Lange is already a rising star in the world of Namibian cycling.
The 2015 Junior South Africa Cup Champion is well on his way to following in the footsteps of fellow professional cyclists Dan Craven and Till Drobisch.
But he says for as far back as he can remember, cycling has always been a part of him.
“I’ve been riding a bike since I can remember. My father, Aiden de Lange, was very instrumental in getting me started because he used to take me cycling when he came from training.
He taught me technical skills. Cycling has always been tradition in my family,” says De Lange, recalling his first cycling event.
“It was a 30-kilometre Cycle Classic event when I was about eight-years-old.”
He had his first competitive race when he was 12-years-old, and in 2013 took part in his first major competition, the African Continental Championships as an U-16, which he won and boosted his confidence furtehr.
2014 was a year of mixed emotions for the young cyclist, with high and low moments. Despite starting off the year with a broken wrist in February, which kept him off the bike for several weeks, he went on to compete in several competitions, including the Youth Olympic Games in China, where he took part in the Mixed-Team Relay along with fellow Namibian cyclist Pascal Marggraff.
His feats earned him a spot at the Junior World Championships in Norway during August 2014. However, during a training session, he broke his collarbone and wrist again, two days before the races.
“This was a challenging time of my career. I was in hospital for a long time. It put me down for a bit, but not just physically, but mentally as well.
I had to overcome thoughts of feeling that perhaps my cycling days were over, but I feel in the end, it only made me stronger,” noted De Lange.
Having missed out on the Junior World Championships last year, he now has a shot at redemption with the 2015 Junior World Championships taking place in Spain in September, which he says is his biggest goal at the moment.
As a Grade 12 student at St. Paul’s College, De Lange feels there is always a difficulty in finding a balance between school and training, especially considering he is in his last year of high school.
“As I get to travel often, I have to take my schoolwork along with me when I travel outside the country to compete, but so far I’m managing. I train throughout the week, which takes up most of my afternoons,” he added.
Besides cycling, he does cross-training, which involves toning muscles off the bicycle, which helps him during races.
Looking at Craven and Drobisch, who both cycle in Europe for a profession, De Lange said it would be his dream to emulate them and also cycle abroad.
“I would love to represent Namibia in a few leagues in Europe. As I want to cycle professionally when I am older, I am certainly looking at cycling in Europe.
But for the meantime, I want to focus on South Africa, and spend some time growing as a cyclist,” he stated.
In comparison to 2014, which he says was as much a learning curve as it was successful, 2015 has been very worthwhile for the youngster.
The highlight, he said, came in May when he was crowned champion of the African Continental Championships in Rwanda for Junior Men.
His last competition was the national championships, which were held on 5 July in Walvis Bay, which he also won.
“My big focus now is on the Junior World Championships, which I hope I can do well at after my injury kept me out of last year’s competition. I am determined, as my life moto is to never stop chasing, even if you get left behind,” he enthused.
by Andreas Kathindi