Regional Air (www.regionaltanzania.com) is home to a genuine Tanzanian sports sensation, Richard Laizer, who has worked for the company since 2010. Richard has defied all odds and broken barriers in becoming Tanzania’s first professional cyclist. The 24-year old Olasiti resident was in 2013 offered a professional cycling contract with the biggest and most prominent professional cycling team in South Africa; Team MTN QHUBEKA. Richard spends the majority of the year training at the UCI World Cycling Center near Johannesburg, South Africa with his teammates, who are the best young cycling talents from the African continent, including the best from from Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Rwanda.
In 2013 Richard represented his team in Europe and in July this year, Richard represented Tanzania at the Commonwealth Games in Scotland, amongst the biggest names in the sport. He completed 7 laps at the Commonwealth Games, a great accomplishment in the conditions. Richard has continued to race in Europe after the Commonwealth Games, and travelled to South America to race in the Tour of Rio de Janeiro at the end of August (another groundbreaking ‘first’ for Tanzanian sports), before continuing on to Swaziland in September for the Swazi Trac 3 MTB race. In November Richard may also compete in the Tour du Rwanda.
Thanks to Regional Air’s continued support of Richard and the Arusha Cycling Club, and due to Richard’s own personal drive and focus, he has risen to be the most prominent and respected cyclist in Tanzania. As a result of the club’s success, including sending national teams to compete in the African Continental Championships for the last three years, Richard has risen to an internationally competitive level, and he is a local celebrity and positive role model for the young people in the Olasiti area. The Arusha Cycling Club has long been placing
Arusha’s young cyclists in employed positions, and currently about one third of the members are working as bike messengers, reducing traffic, transport costs and fossil fuel use, and saving employers time and money in getting errands done in the Arusha town area. Besides providing employment for members who are known to the team as responsible individuals, a few cyclists who started out as messengers (like Richard) have moved into more responsible positions with their organizations, as a result of their job training and experience.
The Arusha Cycling Club hopes to soon facilitate the opening of a ‘bike center’ in Arusha, in collaboration with a Swiss bike foundation. It will offer bikes for sale (bikes made for use in Africa!), provide bike maintenance, rentals, bike safaris and bike guides … a whole ‘cycle’ of possibilities which will help support livelihoods and ambitions of young Tanzanians, and bring the next generation of Tanzanian cyclists into the international spotlight.