While many pupils will be kicking back during the upcoming school holidays, AZ Berman Primary School’s Jooste siblings Tamica, 12, and brother Waylon, 10, will be looking to make their mark on the national stage.
The two will represent the Western Cape at the South African schools’ cross country championships, in Mpumalanga, in the girls’ under-13 and boys’ under-11 category respectively.
The siblings will look to impress at nationals and hope to bring a medal back home.They qualified for the national championships after doing well at the school league races, inter-zonal, Western Province and WC championships, earlier this year.
Tamica, a Grade 7 pupil at AZ Berman Primary, said she is excited and hopes to do well. The lanky athlete is a regular at national championships as she has competed since under-10.
“I am looking forward to compete against the best in the country and give my best. I am hoping to improve on my performance as I have always come in the top 25. This year I hope to be among the medals,” she said.
Tamica, who won the gold medal at the WP cross country championships, has also been doing well on the track as she has been a regular in the WP set up since under-10 for 1 500m. This year she went a step further and received her WC colours for the 800m.
“I am happy with everything I achieved but credit should also go to my coaches Abraham Soggop and Deon Porthen for everything they have put in. This is only the start of things to come as there is still so much to achieve,” said Tamica who hopes to follow in the footsteps of her heroes Caster Semenya, who won gold in the women’s 800m, and Elroy Gelant, who came 13th in the men’s 5 000m at the Rio Olympic Games, in Brazil.
“I do both middle and long distance running which Caster and Elroy do. They inspire me to do better, work harder and never give up,” she said.
Tamica said she got into cross country after her mother, Dorothy, asked her to join a practise session at school.
“I agreed, because at the time I was doing gymnastics and it would help me to keep fit. I did well in my first race coming second overall and first among the girls. That was when I decided to do athletics full time,” she said.
A Grade 3 pupil, Waylon will make his debut at the national competition.
“My goal is to reach the top 10. It won’t be easy but with the hard work and motivation from my coach, friends and family it can be done,” said Waylon, who hopes to take his cross country form onto the track next year.
“I have never made WP or WC on the track but I am hoping to do so next year. If I can do it at cross country I believe I can do it on track,” he said.
Waylon said his fondest memory in cross country was at this year’s WC champs when he came in third place.
“I have never medalled at the WC champs so to gain a bronze medal meant a lot to me,” he said.
Coach Porthen said when Tamica first started athletics she was nervous but has developed over the years.
“She would always lead the race and look back to see where her competition is. Our challenge was to help her gain confidence and when she made WP for the first time she overcame it. She is now more confident and a mature runner. Waylon his still young but doing well,” he said.