Youngster stars on the track

2019-03-07 06:00
Valentine Nkanyemba (13) from Christmas Tinto Primary represented Western Province at the Western Cape primary schools’ championships in Paarl at the weekend.

Valentine Nkanyemba (13) from Christmas Tinto Primary represented Western Province at the Western Cape primary schools’ championships in Paarl at the weekend.

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Valentine Nkanyemba put a good effort when donned the blue, red and white of Western Province during the Western Cape primary school’s athletics championships at Dal Josafat Stadium in Paarl on on Saturday 2 March.

The Grade 7 learner of Christmas Tinto Primary School tested his mettle against 11 other competitors from Boland and South Western Districts in the 1 500 m race for under-13 boys, eventually crossing the line in seventh place.

According to Vuyisile Skweyiya, teacher and coach, this race distance was introduced at the school at the start of the academic year, making the middle distance athlete’s achievement more remarkable.

Skweyiya believes the 13-year-old has a bright future in athletics, but he will have to explore his abilities at high school next year.

“The standard at the meet was very high, but we tried to train according to this,” Skweyiya said. “This young athlete represented the region against other tough competitors, and he did really well on the day.”

He added this was their very first taste of how athletics are conducted at the regional level. The coaches have taken many points from the meet and will train athletes accordingly in the future.

“At school, the athletes compete in the 1 200 m or cross-country events,” Skweyiya explained. “When athletes of this school reach this championships again, we will at least know what to expect.”

Valentine’s achievements on the track have also been an inspiration to other learners.

“If one is dedicated and focused on what one wants to achieve, achieving it is possible,” the teacher said. “If you put a lot of time into it nothing can stop you.”

Before competing at the provincial championships in Paarl, the youngster excelled at the Helderberg zonal athletics meet, hosted by WP Athletics.

A happy Valentine said being selected for WP and participating at the provincial championships boosted his confidence. So much so, that he plans on taking on more athletics challenges in the near future.

“I was a bit nervous before the start of the race and the athletes I competed with were very fast,” he said. “Unfortunately I could not win on the day, but my confidence is very high and I want to do more in the sport.”

Valentine hopes to resume the sport when he moved to high school next year. His parents were also elated when they heard of his selection to the provincial athletics team.

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