Heinz Park’s Shareefah Wilson, 15, earned a spot on the South African weighlifting national team after she won gold at the national championships in Johannesburg, last week.
Shareefa and her teammate Prince Kupara, 14, both won gold at the national championships.
And, Shareefah’s outstanding performance earned her a spot on the SA team that will take part in the African Weightlifting Youth Championships in Algeria, later this year.
Her coach at the Woodlands Community Centre, Chadwin Fourie, said she deserved the call up and that she needs to work even harder now to become one of Africa’s best.
“I snatched 30kg and clean and jerked 45kg in my 58kg weight division. It was a personal best for me because at the Western Province league event, last month, I lifted 35kg in the clean and jerk,” said Shareefah.
Leading up to the national champs, the youngster said she was overwhelmed with excitement because it was her first time travelling out of Cape Town.
A Grade 8 pupil at Woodlands High School, Shareefah got involved in the sport earlier this year, when the community centre linked up with their school.
“They announced it over the intercom at school that whoever wanted to try out weightlifting should meet at the community centre. It sounded interesting and I decided to give it a try.
“At first, I didn’t expect to go this far. I was one of three girls at training but the other two dropped out because it’s not an easy sport. I kept going because I felt that things were getting better for me.
“I remember my first day, I was very nervous and we started off with squat exercises and some other drills.
“When I got home that evening, my body was aching. But after a couple more sessions I got used to it and things started to improve,” said Shareefah.
“My parents are really proud of me. This is now my third gold medal that I’ve brought home.
“My first competition was here in Woodlands, and my second one I won in Kuils River – that was also where they announced the WP team,” she said.
With no prior weightlifting experience, the youngster has gone from strength to strength in a short space of time.
Fourie said that her achievement is great for the community because it will attract and inspire more female athletes to get involved.
“The club was established in 1989 and we’ve never had female athletes who competed at the national championships before,” said Fourie.
“The national tournament formed part of the Arnold Sport Festival – an international sports event named after actor Arnold Schwarzenegger who was also a weightlifter.
“Apart from the weightlifting, we also do extra classes with them in maths, English and Afrikaans,” he said.
Shareefah said she will now apply the same dedication to her studies, as they are writing exams, before going on a weekend training camp in Strand, during the school holidays.