Modern Athlete Magazine Issue 150 May 2022 | Page 63

TRACK & FIELD real chance of Viwe setting a new national record in the under-18 women ’ s 200 metres in two days ’ time .”
Another Record Falls
Well , two days later lightning did indeed strike twice as the young sprint sensation was indeed at it again . She clocked 23.03 to win the 200m final , thus also improving on Evette ’ s long-standing record . In fact , it was literally 40 years to the day since that record was set in Pretoria . Now it will be interesting to see if she can also improve on Evette ’ s 200m SA Junior Record of 22.76 , clocked back in 1984 , and Danie is once again confident that she can do it . In fact , he thinks she will dip under 23 seconds this season still .
“ The one thing that can ’ t be coached is big match temperament . Viwe has got it , and she proved it last year during the World Junior Championships in Nairobi when she finished third in the 200-metre semi-finals in spite of being only 16 and racing against under-20 athletes ,” he says . “ I sort of felt sorry for her when she lined up to compete , as she looked so small compared to the international athletes , but the moment the starter ’ s pistol was fired , she became a ‘ giant .’ She was not intimidated , all that mattered to her was to be fast .
“ During these National Championships in Potch , the conditions were far from perfect . It rained most of the morning , and the track was heavy and slow , but it did not faze Viwe . She ran brilliantly , coming out of the curve ahead , and then she got even faster . I have no doubt that on a warm day and a dry track , she will come close to running 22.60 . I also won ’ t be surprised if she runs a final in August in Colombia at the World Junior Champs , and in 2024 she will be a realistic medal contender at the next World Junior Champs in Peru ,” says Danie .
Exciting Times Ahead
The SA Senior Champs took place on the weekend of 21-23 April , just as this edition of the magazine was being completed , and unfortunately , Viwe was forced to withdraw just before the meet kicked off . Paul explained that his young charge had picked up a hamstring niggle during the week , and they had decided not to risk further injury . “ She felt a bit uncomfortable , so I don ’ t want to risk her ,” he said on the first morning of the meet .
Viwe had been looking forward to taking on the senior athletes once more , having won a 200m race in Germiston the week before the national champs . “ I was planning on having fun with the seniors … seeing how much pressure I can put on them … because I have already qualified for the World Junior Championships . I just want to show the seniors that I can compete with them .”
Checking the clock as she wins the Twizza Super School Athletics Meeting final

Laying a Solid Foundation

Thanks to the support of the Athletics Foundation Trust , a number of super-talented young South African athletes are being given the opportunity to take on the world ’ s best and rewrite the record books .
Viwe Jingqi is sponsored by the Athletics Foundation Trust ( AFT ), which was established in 2014 to create a unique youth development programme to unearth talented young athletes , mostly from far-off rural areas all over the country , who would not otherwise have had an opportunity , and guide them to become leading athletes on and off the track . The AFT has partnered with TuksSport High School to ensure that every sponsored athlete can access a solid high school education as well as the best coaching .
Several athletes sponsored by the AFT have become World Champions , Olympians and record-breakers , including Clarence Munyai and Gift Leotlela , who both qualified for the 2016 Rio Olympics while still only 18 years old . Clarence went on to set the SA 200m Record in 2018 , when he clocked 19.69 during the National Championships , while Gift won a silver medal in the 200m at the 2016 World Under-20 Championships in Bydgoszcz , Poland before setting a SA Junior Record of 10.12 over 100 metres in 2017 . studying locally in various fields , including medicine , teaching , computer science and law . “ No sports career lasts forever . We want young athletes to realise that not everyone is going to become a professional athlete , so education is viewed as equally important ,” said Rose Juby , AFT National Programme Manager .
Nurturing the Young Talent
Just as Viwe has been burning it up on the track , so too has her training buddy , 17-year-old Bradley Nkoane , who has clocked 10.21 over 100 metres and claimed the silver medal in the men ’ s 100m final at the recent SA Senior Champs . Both athletes are coached by Paul Gorries , who says he is aware of the challenges his two young proteges face , notably that fast time often equates to great expectations , but all too often , young athletes can get injured , or quit the sport , because they are pushed too hard , too soon .
Benjamin Richardson
For this reason , Bradley hardly raced last year , due to hamstring and foot injuries . “ Bradley was already injured before I got to coach him ,” says Paul . “ It was a bitter pill for him when I told him I would not allow him to race last year , as he needed to fully recover , but he might now start to reap the rewards for being patient .”
Another promising youngster in Paul ’ s training group is Benjamin Richardson , who won silver in the 100 metres during last year ’ s World Junior Championships in Nairobi , Kenya , and the coach says he is being very selective about when and where his young athletes race . “ The goal is to have them at their best during the World Junior Championships in Colombia in August , and to do that means they get consistent every time they race . We got it to work for Benjamin last year . From when he won the gold medal at the SA Junior Champs to winning silver at the World Junior Champs , the split between his fastest and slowest times in the 100 metres was only 0.13 seconds .”
Bradley Nkoana
Images : Reg Caldecott , BackSports
Another AFT-sponsored star was Sokwakhana Zazini , who had everyone talking when he won gold in the 400m hurdles at the 2017 World Under-18 Championships , and a year later he won gold again , at the World Under-20 Championships in Tampere , Finland . In 2019 , he won silver at the World Student Games in Napoli , Italy . The trust has also supported Sinesipho Dambile , who competed at the 2019 IAAF World Relay Championships in Japan ’ s , helping the SA team win silver in the 200m relay .
Off the track , several AFT alumni have gone on to pursue further studies at American colleges or