But now he has become the rising star since starting to cycle competitively five years ago, and on Sunday, in Franschhoek, he climbed into the saddle for the start of the gruelling Cape Rouleur - a five-day multi-stage endurance road event that covers 600km and almost 6 000m of climbing.
The 19-year-old also landed himself a sponsorship with Dimension Data last year.
The cyclist has competed in a number of international competitions, including the Scotland Junior World Track Championship in 2013 and the 2014 Omnium SA Champs - where he placed third.
He says his twin sister, Shameegah, is “his biggest supporter”.
Future teacher Shameegah Salie is as passionate about supporting her younger (by 21 minutes) brother as he is about his cycling. “I’m very proud of him, he’s a big inspiration to me,” she said.
He cites the support of his family as one of the driving forces behind his success, in addition to having self-confidence and humility.
The young cyclist is mentored by English cyclist Ben Swift, 28, who cycles for Team Sky.
“My mentor is abroad most of the time, although he visits me during December.
“Having a mentor that is abroad often means that I build my own confidence because cycling is as much a mental activity as it is a physical activity,” Salie said.
On future upcoming 2016 cycling events, Salie will be jetting off to Lucca in Italy on March 20 to train in anticipation of the UCI Track Cycling World Championship.
He is considering taking part in the Tour de France one day, but says to give him about “three or four years”.
Original source: Cape star sets sights on Tour de France