UK cyclist Chris Froome, who was born and trained in Africa and speaks Swahili, says he hopes that his victory this month in the 100th Tour de France will inspire other young Africans.
Froome, 28, was born in Kenya to parents of British descent. At the age of 14, he moved to South Africa to go to school and then university in Johannesburg.
He was introduced to cycling by David Kinjah, a professional Kenyan cyclist, and won a cycling medal for Kenya in the 2007 All Africa Games.
His performances in 2008 attracted the attention of British Cycling coach, Rod Ellingworth who believed Froome had potential.
“Although I was riding under the Kenyan flag I made it clear that I had always carried a British passport and felt British,” said Froome earlier this year. “It was then we talked about racing under the Union Flag, and we stayed in touch.”
However, Froome’s father Clive, who still lives in Kenya, said his son “feels at home” in Kenya and South Africa just as much as he does in the UK.
“He has shared affiliation and affection for all three,” he said.
Kinjah said seeing Froome win the Tour was “a wonderful, wonderful feeling”
Although competitive cycling is not hugely popular in Kenya, a large number of fans gathered to watch and celebrate Froome’s victory in a bar in the wealthy Westlands suburb of Nairobi.
Speaking to the BBC, Kinjah said he initially thought Froome was “another young kid” from a wealthy family, before realising that he was a “poor white boy”.
“And soon when we started to be friends, I never charged his mother any money because Chris was quickly becoming one of us and he loved to be in the village with us,” he said.
“He was like one of us, our brother. He was just funny and happy, a white boy who accepted our village and ate our food.”
After his victory, Froome said: “I’d like my performances here to help inspire a lot of youngsters, especially young Africans.”
“They have to believe they can get out of Africa to make it to European teams.”