It’s all systems go for the Western Province High Schools’ Southern Zone Section A athletics meet, at the Bellville Velodrome, on Monday February 20.
Current champions Mondale High School will be coming into the competition as favourites, dominating last year’s competition with 682 points, 324 points ahead of second-placed Heathfield, followed by Steenberg and South Peninsula who shared third place.
It will also be an opportunity for Mondale’s star hurdler Dale Claasen, 15, to defend his 300m hurdles and 400m sprint titles.
However, the lanky athlete first has to take care of business at the Western Province Junior Meet, at Parow athletics track, this weekend.
Dale, from Eastridge, will use this as preparation for the upcoming athletics season and to see what he still needs to improve on.
“This is my first year running under-17 which means that I have to push harder. The junior meet will be a great test, as I will run up against Cape Town’s finest athletes. Hopefully my best will be enough to cross the finish line in first place,” said Dale.
Last year, Dale’s season started on a high note when he came first in the boys’ under-15 300m hurdles and 400m sprints at the Western Province High Schools’ Southern Zone Section A athletics meet, at the Green Point track.
His formed continued at the Zonal championships where he did the double again. However, at the Western Province champions, Dale could not repeat his performance as he came fifth and third in the boys under-16 400m sprint and 300m hurdles, respectively. He then qualified for the Western Cape Championships for the boys’ under-16 300m hurdles and made it to the finals.
Dale, who has now bowed out at the WC champs stage of the season for two consecutive years, learnt at this year’s schools’ competitions that he would need to put it in more effort to overcome that hurdle.
“It was not easy at the WC champs but I gave it my all. I will look to do my best and work on small things like getting out of the block fast, because that plays a major role come next year,” he said.
Referring to last year’s WP champs, Dale said the competition was tough compare to previous years but, he said, he can only learn from his mistakes.
“What I should do is run my normal race and not go with the pace of the other athletes because in the 400m I ran full out from the start and in the end, it came to bite me,” he said.
Dale first took part in athletics in Grade 3 at Wespoort Primary when he was a reserve in the 80m sprints.
“On the day of the inter-schools the runner who had to run did not pitch up and I got my opportunity. I won my race and never looked back since then,” he said
Dale says his mother Gail has played a major role in helping him become the athlete he is.
“My mother Gail has been my inspiration from the get go as she was also a sprinter while in school. She motivates me and encourages me all the time,” he said.
Last year Mondale had 66,39 and 10 athletes that ran at Zonals, Western Province championships and Western Cape Champions, respectively.
Mondale sport co-ordinator Valhatiem Raynard said he is delighted with the school’s performance last year.
“We at Mondale strive for success on all fronts and the determination that the athletes showed was a testimony of their hard work.
“The athletes were disciplined and dedicated and gave it their all at training,” he said.