The 2015 Beijing World Championship saw a moment in history for South African athletes that will not be soon forgotten. When you saw the athletes in your social circle, like Wayde van Niekerk, cross the finish line with a gold medal, how did this affect you?
They inspire me a lot. Sometimes you wonder whether you can get through your race, or whether you have enough guts to show, and to see these guys really stand up as an example is a big motivator, and something I aspire to achieve.
You have tweeted that, “The will to win means nothing without the will to prepare.” Each athlete will embark on a unique road of preparation for Rio this year. What does yours involve?
My Road to Rio is an exciting one. I have support that will carry me throughout the year. I will do a few local meets in South Africa. The National Championship will be the biggest one. From there I will go to Europe for some stronger competitions where I will compete against some of the world’s best. The races will help me build up for the Rio Games and assess where I am. I plan to stay motivated, go to the track everyday, keep my head held high and treat each training session as if it were my last.
Something that most athletes are able to relate to is learning to wait for the perfect time to allow certain goals to unfold. Is there anything you are hoping to achieve when the time is right?
When we train together, the hurdles team always joke about how we run for that one in every ten races that will be perfect. There is so much that can go wrong in every race. Hurdles is very technical, but I do believe that there is a really perfect race waiting for me. If it could be a peak in the Olympic final, break the South African record and get a place on the podium – that would be my perfect time.
The Road to Rio has been spoken of as the road to South Africa becoming one of the best sprinting nations in the world. How do you hope to contribute to this moment in history?
I would like to better my time and break some records, if possible, to contribute to the history of South Africa. But for me, it is actually more of a personal contribution. I love what I do and enjoy this sport. Every time I step onto the track I find joy in the talent I have been given, and I want to fulfil that to the best of my ability. It is important not to just focus on the records, but to really enjoy and think about the difference you can make with the sport that you are doing.
This is a special year for South African athletic supporters, but also a very special time for UP students who see athletes like you representing the university on such an internationally recognised level. What does representing UP-Tuks mean to you?
It is a special moment. I really appreciate all the support that is behind all Tuks athletes. I love knowing that I am not only representing my country, but the club that I have been a part of since I started my studies after school.