For the love of running

2013-11-05 00:00

ELEVEN-YEAR-OLD Juliette Goebel from Pietermaritzburg is a running star in the making.

The Epworth Co-educational Preparatory School girl last month won the Spur KZN Trail Series, beating runners much older than her as she made her way through the five-kilometre course.

“I love running,” Juliette told The Witness yesterday. “I’ve been running with my Mom since I was six. I run six kilometres every day in the afternoon,” the Grade five said, adding that she always runs after completing her homework.

She loves trail running, but she also enjoys being on the track, and said she’d like to compete in the Olympics in the future.

Since the third grade (Under 9), Juliette has been chosen to represent KwaZulu-Natal in athletics (1 200 m). At school events, she was unbeatable.

“I always come first at sports days and cross-country races, and I usually beat older runners,” she said.

An athlete she looked up to was Mikaela Jonson (16) from the Maritzburg Athletics Club, who attends Pietermaritzburg Girls’ High School.

“She always helps me and she always reassures me when I’ve had a bad race,” Juliette said about Mikaela.

Mikaela, a triathlete, is due to represent South Africa at the Junior Olympics in Nanjing, China next year.

Juliette’s coach Chris White told The Witness that she was amongst the top runners in the province amongst her age group.

“She’s heading to SA champs in two weeks, and we’re hoping to come back with eighth place,” White said. He has been coaching Juliette for the last two years.

Asked about Juliette’s goal to compete at the very top one day, White said: “I’m confident that she has a good chance. But, at 11, it is very hard to foresee. But, let’s wait and see how her body develops. She’s a hard worker and is very dedicated.”

Her father Arno Goebel said they tried to encourage her as much as possible, but also made sure that she enjoyed her running.

“She loves it. When I’m at work, she’ll sometimes call me and ask me when I’m coming home because she wants to go running,” Goebel said.

“I used to do a lot of mountain biking and I had to give that up for running so she has someone to run with.”

The two of them also attend races over five to eight kilometres, and Goebel admitted that he’s never beaten her.

“She’s super competitive. She loves running. She did a poem at school once and she wrote about her love for it.

“But, my wife Jessica and I just try to make sure that she enjoys it. Her coach Chris White is also a very good coach, and he’s always said that she has to enjoy it,” he said, adding that his son Oliver (7) was also catching the running bug.

NAME: Juliette Goebel

AGE: 11

HEIGHT: 1,45 m

SCHOOL: Epworth Co-educational Preparatory School

SPORT: Running

AMBITION: To run at the Olympic Games

HONOURS: KZN Athletics from Under-9 to Under-11.

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