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2018-06-05 06:01
Tristan Shallcross at a waterpolo game.PHOTO: supplied

Tristan Shallcross at a waterpolo game.PHOTO: supplied

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KLOOF resident and waterpolo player Tristan Shallcross (15) has made his family proud as he has been chosen to represent his country as part of the South African U16 waterpolo team in New Zealand in July.

According to the young man, he is extremely proud to be selected to represent his country.

“I am extremely proud to have been chosen to represent my country to participate in the Pan Pacific Youth Water Polo Festival in Auckland, which is the largest waterpolo festival in the southern Hemisphere. We leave on July 4 and return on July 19. It is my first international tournament so I am really looking forward to it, and especially to being exposed to the international talent.”

Tristan’s journey to the star athlete that he is, was an uphill battle as he was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes four years ago. However, that did not stop him from pursuing his passion. “My biggest passion is my chosen sport which is waterpolo, which I have set myself goals for and worked hard to achieve.

“I have a close circle of friends, two of whom have been my best friends since Grade 2 and they also play waterpolo. I want to be a veterinarian and somehow still be involved with waterpolo when I leave school, whether it’s coaching or playing I’m not sure, but would love to play internationally if I get the opportunity,” he said.

Tristan said that waterpolo is good for your mind, body and soul. “Waterpolo is very much a team sport. It’s extremely fast-paced and it tests your endurance levels both in a game and in training. I love the fact that it pushes you physically and mentally in the game. You learn to read people, their strengths and weaknesses. I am a goalie, also known as a keeper. In the goals I have to be super alert, never taking my eye off the ball and anticipating its next pass before they try to get it into the goals.

“The waterpolo community is a close community and I’ve made some amazing friends who I would never have met had it not been for waterpolo. Your team mates and friends in the sport are like a brotherhood. When you get out the pool after a hard game or training session you feel the benefits to your body, mind and soul.”

When asked why he chose waterpolo as a sport, he said: “Funny enough, waterpolo wasn’t my main sport initially. I loved soccer and athletics in primary school and was in the first team for soccer and set some athletics records. I started playing a bit of waterpolo towards the end of senior primary when it was offered as an additional after-school sport. I was initially given a scholarship to Glenwood Boys’ High School for soccer and athletics. When I started Grade 8 I was asked to try out for waterpolo because of my height and my arm span.

“With the brilliant coaching the school offers, I quickly found myself learning not only how to play the game properly, but I suddenly had a passion for a sport that I had not considered seriously. Something about the game just clicked and I decided to drop soccer and athletics and focus on waterpolo.”

Tristan’s advice to youngsters who wish to play waterpolo is: “Feed the passion that this sport will light in you. Train hard, set yourself achievable goals and work towards them one at a time. Learn the basics of the game and perfect them first. Swim, swim and swim some more. Don’t give up.

“To the diabetic kids, don’t let our disease dictate your dreams. Being diabetic, I battled when I first started playing as my sugar was all over the place and I was physically ill, but my love for the game made me work harder and made me want it even more and I found a way to push through.

“Through trial and error I learnt what sugar levels I need to be on before training or a game. Don’t let it beat you.”

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