From neighbourhood menace to nine-year-old African champion


Neil van der Vyver was three when he started wreaking havoc in his neighbourhood. He tore around the streets revving up a storm that left residents on edge. The difference between Van der Vyver and other menacing children? This toddler was on a motorbike. Little did his neighbours know, the noise pollution they tolerated for the sake of a child’s fun was in fact the beginning of a championship motocross career.

Just two years later Van der Vyver had grown into a competitive racer. Without much rivalry at junior level – apparently there weren’t many kids his age with the guts to ride – he found himself flying fast and hard through the senior club series in the 50cc division. Last year the little adrenaline junkie turned eight, dominated grade two and cruised to victory in the South African Motocross Series. Oh, and he christened his Protea colours with a win at the Africa Motocross of African Nations Continental Championship.

Given the right guidance, those around Van der Vyver in the motocross scene expect South Africa’s youngest continental champion only to soar higher. So, while Van der Vyver’s ear-bursting antics may have driven his neighbours to the brink of insanity, his story is proof that childhood passions don’t have to be trivial. In this case youthful playfulness produced a nine-year-old sporting champion.