A Cape Town athlete – International vision
With trendy hair and knee-length shorts, Branwill Blaauw greeted me in Dunkley Square in the heart of Cape Town. Sincerity and humility in his eyes struck me again as it did before when I visited their family home. His dad, Dewald, smiled with pride as he always does when he speaks of his wife and two boys. Branwill is now 19 years old and is a cyclist with a huge vision. He is now cycling in Cape Town and the rest of South Africa.
Shaped for road cycle racing
After a quick visit to Lemon Court, a self-catering 2 bedroom facility in a heritage home dating back to 1870, we set off in 2 vehicles over the Kloofnek pass towards Camp Bay. ‘This cannot become old’, I thought, as the curvy Table Bay and the Twelve Apostles came into view. While breathing beauty, we stopped to set Branwill free. Emerging from the vehicle, he was dressed from head to toe in cycling gear. Humble eyes turned to delight and deep contentment. Long, strong legs flanked willing wheels as Branwill and bicycle became one.
After a few gentle instructions from fully licensed, manager/coach dad, he sped up the mountain with ease, while the old men watched with admiration.
I had ‘I wish’ and ‘is it really that easy?’ on my mind as I snapped pictures and grabbed video to capture this inspiring story. ‘We’ll race through him…’ I proudly wrote in my little black notebook.
Cape Town, a perfect setting for cycling
After watching talent in action, we sat down at Vida e caffé sipping at coffee and eating sweet buns loaded with calories. The young rider wisely opted for water and not indulging in the ‘decadence’ of his supposed ‘role models’. The beach at Camps Bay was alive with holidaymakers. Yellow sun umbrellas decorated the white glistening beach. Not a stir in the air! Perfect! Dads with their kids braved the icy Atlantic while the fairer soaked sun for an even tan.
Branwill has a determined dream. I could see it in his eyes! While his dad paid for our sludge, I asked Branwill what he wanted. ‘I want to race with an elite team’ he said. ‘My passion is to participate in multi-stage tour races like Tour de France, Giro d’Italia and La Vuelta a España’. A lofty vision for sure. Doable? Absolutely
Cycling with the big boys from England to Cape Town
When Branwill was 3 years old, his family moved to Reading, England where his dad worked as an ICT Coordinator. At age 11, they returned to South Africa to settle in Cape Town. It was in England where he was introduced to cycling. He could cycle wherever he needed to where cycling lanes were provided and safety, a priority. Dewald, his dad, had set the tone, gave his son a dream and is doing his level best to make that dream come true. He had a racing cycle and followed cycling news and tours with great enthusiasm, which of course influenced the boy. In 2009 Branwill joined his dad to watch the Tour de France on TV. The boiling excitement of head to head racing grabbed the young lad, but when Marc Cavendish won a stage, the 11-year-old was captured.
Achievement after achievement: Sponsors needed
Below is a very long list of Branwill’s achievements. At first glance, one would think that this young talent was scooped up by sponsors far and wide. Sadly not!
Since Branwill’s career started, his parents sponsored him. We know that cycling is not a cheap sport. Dewald, invested his time and money to give Branwill the best of chances to race professionally. In disbelief, I learned that even though he won the under 16 Pick & Pay cycle tour of 109km, applications to mainstream corporate sponsors were ignored or rejected. Those whom he raced against were offered sponsorships but not this kid from a previously disadvantaged community. SA Cycling and the Ministry of Sport and Recreation of South Africa need systems in place to develop young talent without bias. Branwill’s achievements below, point to a serious, dedicated athlete with great potential. Let’s help him!
Cycling Achievements of a dedicated athlete from Cape Town
Racing Highlights 2010 (12 years old)
Completed Cape Argus/Pick ‘n Pay Cycle race 110 km
Racing Highlights 2011 (13 years old)
1st, Engen Dynamic Series, 30 km
2nd, Aca Joe Series, Durbanville, 48.5 km
2nd, Knysna Pick ‘n Pay Road race, 50 km
Major results 2012 (14 years old)
1st, Century City Criterium
1st, Chevrolet, Ninety Niner, 50 km
1st, Olympic Cycles, Pres Les/Foord, 75 km
1st, WPCA Winter League Series, Event 2, Atlantis,
1st, WPCA Winter League Series, Event 3, Epping,
1st, WPCA Winter League Series, Event 4, Atlantis,
1st, WPCA Winter League Series, Event 5, Ottery
2nd, Medallion, Tour de Stellenbosch, 67 km
3rd, Tour de PPA, Joostenvlakte, 50 km
Western Province Winter League, Champion, U/14, 2012
Racing Highlights 2013 (15 years old)
1st, WPCA, U/16 Road Champion, 2013
1st, U16 Engen Cycle Challenge 111km (Time:03:01:36)
1st, Chevrolet Ninety Niner U/16
2nd, U/16, Pick ‘n Pay Argus Cycle Tour, 109 km, (Time) 2:58:06
2nd, WPCA, Autumn Track Series
3rd, WPCA, U/16 Individual Time Trial
3rd, Burger Cycle Tour 97 km, Group A
City Cycling Club, Order of Merit Champion 2013
Century City Criterium Club Champion
WPCA Winter League, Top-ranked Cat 3 rider
Cycling Cape Town more waves
Racing Highlights 2014 (16 years old)
1st, U/16, Pick n Pay Argus Cycle Tour,109 km, (Time 2:55:12)
1st, U/16 PPA One Tonner, 163 km (Time: 4:19:32)
1st, U/16 Tiletoria Westcoast Express,118km (Time:03:03:27)
1st, U/16 Engen Criterium Series, Greenpoint
1st, U/16 Stellenbosch Cycle Tour, 95 km, Group A1 (Time: 02:31:44)
Western Cape Road Champion 2014, U/16
Racing Highlights 2015 (17 years old)
Cape Town Cycle Tour – 47km
Overall Position: 148th/32128
Age Position: 7th/14
Racing Highlights 2016
Stellenbosch Cycle Tour – 97km
Overall Position: 37th/4184
Age Position: 2nd/39
Chapmans Peak Hill Climb – 5km
Overall Position: 5th/134
Age Position: 1st/5
Dido Valley Hill Climb – 2.1km
Overall Position: 8th/93
Age Position: 2nd/2
Racing Highlights 2017 (18 years old)
Coronation Double Century Team Time Trial – 202km
Team Position: 54th/257
Individual Age Position: 47th/183
Stellenbosch Cycle Tour – 97km
Overall Position: 39th/3578
Age Position: 12th/92
One Tonner – 170km
Overall Position: 23th/736
Age Position: 5th/26
Not only Cape Town, also South Africa
National Youth Cycling Road Champion, Oudsthoorn, 2012/3
National Youth Cycling Criterium, Oudsthoorn, 2012/3, 3rd position
National Youth Cycling Criterium Champion, Gariep, Free State, 2012, U/14
National Youth Cycling Road Race, Gariep, Free State, 2012, 2nd Position
National Team Cycling Criterium Champion, Bloemfontein, Free State, 2013, U/16
National Team Cycling Road Champion, Bloemfontein, Free State, 2013, U/16
National Team Time Trial Champion, Oudsthoorn, (Was designated Team captain for the race), 2014, U/16
National Team Cycling Championship, 2nd position, Bloemfontein, U/16, 2014
Cycling peak approaching
This year, 2018, is critical for Branwill Blaauw. He is now in the Under-23 age category and will be racing against stronger opponents including elite cyclists.
In January, the Western Province Championships awaits. This is a 160km race in Cape Town.
In February is the SA Championships, 154km.
The big race this quarter is the Cape Cycle Tour 109km. The Cape Cycle Tour is a major international event which attracts thousands of cyclists from around the world. Due to strong wind, the event of 2017 was canceled.
The Cape Town Athlete is shaped by cycling
Success in sport doesn’t come easy. A young man like Branwill has to make many sacrifices which shape character. While his peers hang out at cafes and beaches, Branwill has to conquer mountains, coast valleys and sweat for success. He told me how he has to be disciplined in all areas of his life. This includes his eating, time management, entertainment, sleeping patterns and social life. During grade 12, he had to go slow with cycling to achieve good grades.
Cycling is not the only talent that this young man has. He is also into art and music. He does illustrations and sells them.
Cape Town Up Close is making an appeal on behalf this amazing young man and his great potential. Please contact us to connect Branwill to sponsors and people in cycling to maximise his chances of success.