It was a Wednesday afternoon, somewhere in Port Harcourt, Nigeria, the dark silhouette of a 5ft 11’ man looms large over about 15 kids; some bent over bicycle frames and others over bicycle wheels trying to fix their bikes. Not satisfied with what a teenager is doing, the man took charge, showing the kid how to fix the sprocket and chain. From the deference accorded him by the kids, one could tell he leads this pack and he is one revered by all. This does not come as a surprise as very few people in the locale can boast of the many things this 37year old has accomplished through the two-wheel sport. He has played pivotal roles in many of the cycling related success stories emanating from the country today. His daughter whom he trained, was among Nigeria’s silver medal-winning cycling team at the 2018 African Youth Games in Algiers.
With a body weight of 69kg, the dark complexioned athlete cuts a ferocious look with his plaited goatee; little wonder he is nicknamed “Blacky D’Animal”, a testament of his fierce commitment and love for the adoption of the pedal sport in Rivers State and Nigeria at large. A commitment he has kept aflame for 18 years of his cycling career. As a young teenager growing up in Rivers State, Miebaka Aggo was partly influenced by professional cyclists in the state and the need to tell a different Niger-Deltan story.
“In the year 2000, I picked up the challenge as a Niger Deltan to portray cycling as an alternative option for Niger-Deltan youths over violence.”
Has he been successful in the evangelism for the adoption of cycling in changing the Niger-Delta narrative? One only needs to look at the thriving cycling ecosystem burgeoning in the region to arrive at an answer. Unarguably today, River State remains a foremost bicycling hub in Nigeria contributing significantly to the number of cycling export Nigeria currently boasts of due to the efforts of Miebaka and others. The story of how he ventured into cycling and his achievements thus far is a source of motivation to friends, family members and the average Niger – Delta kids looking to escape the violence and crime rife in the region. Little wonder his wife, Rita Aggo captains the Rivers State female cycling team, Diepreye, his cousin cycles for Sharks Racing Club of Rivers State and Stephanie Aggo, his daughter rides for the junior female cycling team of Nigeria.
While it can be said that 19-year-old Miebaka Aggo couldn’t have imagined what the future held in store for him as he made the decision to pursue cycling as a career 18 years ago, he was nonetheless prepared for the battle ahead. At age 23, just four years into his cycling journey, he had already begun coaching cyclists and scouting for talents in the Delta. He discovered and nurtured the raw talents of Bassey Nelson (captain of the River State Cycling Team) and other Niger-Deltan heroes.
Individually, Blacky has achieved trailblazing feats for himself, in 2013, Miebaka Aggo became the first Nigerian to emerge with the title of Ironman having participated and completed the Ironman Triathlon in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. A feat never before accomplished by anybody.
Miebaka’s story is one that inspires and further gives credence to the ability of sport to offer alternative routes to relevance and access to opportunities. Being a beneficiary of the good cycling has to offer, Blacky continues to galvanize the attention of kids, teenagers and parents to involvement in sports (most especially cycling) as a substitute to a life of violence most Niger-Delta kids are susceptible to. Through his pet project: Developing the Niger-Delta Kids through Sports Initiative, the IOC certified Triathlon coach currently trains over 50 kids in the region, preparing them to become world-class cyclists.
“The kids’ camp is part of a talent hunt, and giving back to the society through sports, and most importantly to distract our kids from learning negative things in the area.
And for us as a country, it is also an avenue to raise potential cyclists to be able to compete with the world since you have to start early to reach that top level; it is key we train these children from an early stage.” – Miebaka Aggo
The initiative is a holiday camp where kids are taught the basics of cycling, bike maintenance amongst other salient knowledge needed in cycling. According to Blacky, kids who show promising talents are admitted from this program into junior cycling teams: Team Aspire and Team Velocity where they further groomed to become pro cyclists.