De Lange aims 2020 strong comeback

By Michael Uugwanga

TRISTAN de Lange, one of the country’s top male cross-country mountain bike rider, is looking forward to a positive year after a difficult 2019 due to injuries. Despite the setbacks he nevertheless managed to win two gold medals for Namibia in Morocco last year.

Now injury-free, de Lange is hoping to qualify for the 2020 Olympic Games, but qualification for the Tokyo Games can only be achieved through hard work and sheer dedication, he admits.

De Lange is currently based in South Africa, where he is a student at the University of Stellenbosch, majoring in Finance. At 22, he is firmly in the saddle of his racing career and it is just a matter of time before he establishes himself as one of the continent’s top male marathon cross-country riders.

In an interview with Confidente Sport Desk ahead of his first race of the year, the Attakwas –which is considered South Africa’s toughest mountain bike race – de Lange said he sees the race as an ideal opportunity to gain points ahead of major upcoming international races.

“The year 2019 was a very good but also very tough year. I suffered a big loss with having some cardiac problems at the beginning of last year. It is not an important race (Attakwas) in the big picture, but I would like to do well in order to up my international ranking in preparation for the World Cup later in the year.

“The cardiac problems cost me a lot of titles, such as the National Championships. This was a big blow for me, but I fought back after recovering from the operation and things are going very well now.

“It took a few months for me to get back from injuries, but I was then able to make my comeback by winning the All-Africa Games Cross Country and Marathon raves in Morocco in the colours of Namibia. I would love to keep on winning. My targets for the year are the Tokyo Olympics, [to] stand at the podium at the African Championships and to regain my national title. I strongly believe that I can do it.

“We have qualified as a country, but not as an individual rider for the cross country mountain bike event. Selection is still in process. The African Championships and two of the South Africa Cups to come will be part of the selection process,” he said.

De Lange fell in love with the sport of cycling, thanks to the encouragement of his father, who was a rider himself. “I have been cycling since I can remember and I will carry on racing until my body can no longer. Cycling was a family [affair]. We all rode. My father more so and I followed in his steps. I have no regret in choosing cycling. It’s what I am good at and where my passion lies. My father inspired me to get into cycling. I am 22 now, so I’ve still got a number of years of racing career ahead of me.”

He went on to say: “I am in my final year now of study. It is difficult to balance training and studying, but it’s during race season where things do get really hard as all energy goes in racing and not much into studying.”

As for the local competition, he said: “All cyclists in Namibia are my biggest rivals because everyone has the potential to perform on the day. I do not underestimate anyone.”