The Tuks Athletics Club has a long history of producing world-class athletes who have reached the top of the sport, winning Olympic medals and world championships. Tuks athlete Andries van der Merwe is a young, talented and determined future star, seemingly destined to join the long list of superstars to emerge from the club.
Taking into consideration his obvious talent, his tender age and the fact that he is at a club steeped in history with a proven track-record of success, it would appear Van der Merwe has the world at his feet.
Although he was born in Windhoek, Namibia, the 17-year-old sensation chose to represent South Africa and has already begun to create waves in the world of athletics. He is currently the fastest junior athlete in the world in the 110m hurdles, with an outstanding personal best of 13.39 seconds. He ran the time at the Southern Region Youth Champs and in doing so became number one in the IAAF world rankings for the event, just ahead of fellow South African Tiaan Smit.
He was recently selected as one of 36 athletes who represented South Africa at the IAAF Youth World Championships held in Lille, France. These championships have seen the emergence of several superstars over the years who have gone on to replicate their success at the highest levels of the sport.
The South African team that went to the championships was one of the most exciting the nation has put together in years. There were several athletes who were expected to bring home a medal in their respective events. Van der Merwe, being one of only two South African youth athletes to hold the number one world ranking in his event, faced the pressure of high expectations. He stood firm and converted his number one ranking into a gold medal with an impressive 13.41 seconds.
While he may be still relatively unknown, it will surely not be long before Van der Merwe is a household name and joins the likes of LJ van Zyl, Khotso Mokoena and Caster Semenya as an international star.