Eighth time’s a charm

Mondale's Nathaniel Jaftha.

Mondale High School’s track and field team produced another spectacular performance to win their eighth Western Province Southern Zone A Section athletics championships title, at the Bellville Velodrome on Monday.

What made the victory even more special was the fact that they have now won the competition back-to-back since 2010.

The day-long event saw Mondale competing against South Peninsula, Fish Hoek, Wynberg Boys/Girls, Herschel, Plumstead, Grassdale, Heathfield and Steenberg high schools.

Their opponents didn’t really cause many problems, as the Portland-based school dominated most of the events, collecting 542 points in the process, a massive 150 ahead of second-placed Wynberg, who collected 392 points.

South Peninsula finished third with 323 points, while Steenberg, who were the last team to win the competition before Mondale’s dominance in 2009, and Heathfield completed the top five with 310 and 266 points respectively.

Mondale’s athletes dominated the proceedings, especially on the track, with their hurdlers, and sprinters in particular, winning almost everything in their way. Even the blazing hot temperatures didn’t stop the youngsters from performing at their best. Spurred on by their vocal fans in the stands, they seemed to thrive under those conditions.

Hurdlers Kian Hendricks, from Rondevlei, and Nataniel Jaftha, from Lentegeur, were just two of those Mondale athletes who performed at their best under the circumstances.

The youngsters won their respective 300m under-15 races.

For the short and stocky Jaftha, winning his race was un negotiable. This, he said, was because he wanted to beat his Mondale teammate Walied Brown.

“Last year I did well, as I went all the way to the WP championships but, because I was only 14 back then, I couldn’t go beyond Western Province. I had some interesting races along the way, though, and came second behind Walied in one of them, so I told him I was going to beat him this time around. That’s exactly what happened today and I am happy,” he said.

The Grade 9 pupil said the plan, ahead of his race, was to go all the way and win it, rather than settling for second place.

“The 300m hurdles is my race. I know how to win it, so negotiating my way around the track was not that difficult. I just needed to stay ahead of the rest. And I did that. I did well last year but I still think my performance was not really up to scratch, I knew I could do even better.. Now that I am more experienced, I think I, with the help of my teammates and coaches, will go all the way to the national champs,” he said.

The youngster also noted that doing well in the hurdles was always going to stand the school in good stead in its march towards the eighth title.

This, he said, was because hurdles were more “lucrative”than other races when it comes to the points on offer.

“We knew that winning in the hurdles will give us most points so, yes, we targeted that. That is why we did thorough preparations ahead or the competition. Those preparations included short hurdles and a lot of stretching.

His teammate, Kian concurred. He said there was lots of emotions involved, especially minutes before the start of the race. This he said was because, the mind was not only on his own race but also on how he had to outsmart his opponents. “There was also a lot of excitement and adrenalin going on. So the plan was to destroy my opponents with pace and aggression and, of course, finish strongly. I am happy I have done that but, having said that, I know there is still a lot of work to do ahead of the next meeting,”he said.