One on one with triathlon athlete

2016-03-30 06:00
PHOTO: volume photography Carla Van Huyssteen, physiotherapist turned professional athlete,

PHOTO: volume photography Carla Van Huyssteen, physiotherapist turned professional athlete,

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CARLA van Huyssteen, a physiotherapist turned professional athlete, spoke to Maritzburg Fever recently about who she is and her success as a triathlon athlete.

The modest 32-year-old worked her way to being a professional by studying and working and training hard and with time, grew into an athlete, and through financial support, participated in events as a professional athlete.

She said participating in sports was always something she enjoyed and during her school years at Linden High, was introduced to a variety of sports.

“From gymnastics, athletics, hockey and netball - I enjoyed all sports, except swimming, unfortunately, we didn’t have swimming at school.”

Inspired by her physiotherapist mentor Andrea Steyn, Van Huyssteen said that Steyn participated in triathlons at the time and helped her with a small programme to get her started.

After competing in a few fun events Steyn urged her to keep going.

She participated in her first triathlon in 2004 at the Energade Sprint Tri-series at Roodeplaat Dam.

“I was terrified of the swim, but managed,” she said.

Van Huyssteen has been blessed with many experiences, travelling opportunities, seeing the world and achieving her goals, but the highlights are winning the South African Xterra Championships in 2012 for the first time and finishing third at the ITU Cross World Championships in the same year sharing a podium with one of her heroes, Conrad Stoltz.

“Pro-athletes are just humans choosing to excel in a given sport. We are no more worthy than the next person cleaning the streets or working two jobs to support a family. Sometimes athletes get put up on pedestals and I personally don’t like that.

“Being pro is sometimes more of a mindset than a day-job. Sport is my passion and my job, but it could have been anything else. If everyone can just be content with themselves, what they have and grab at every opportunity to improve, we can all live in peace, and that is something I strive for every day,” she said.

Van Huyssteen and her husband relocated to Pietermaritzburg from Johannesburg in 2012 after falling in love with the Midlands during their many visits to the province.

“We said we will one day live here, so when the opportunity came about for my husband to work in Pietermaritzburg we grabbed it with both hands,” she said.

When asked where she saw herself in the next five years Van Huyssteen said she is not a long-term planner, however, tries to reassess her career every year.

“It’s good to have goals and your choices reflect the goals you have, but being too rigid about it, you sometimes miss out on great opportunities that come your way.

“So to answer the question, five is a long time, but I’m probably heading towards starting a business, starting a family, but still being active and enjoying racing for the fun of it.

“At the moment I’m a full-time athlete, but I will definitely go back to my physio when the right time comes,” she said.

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