Survivor: Okkert wants tougher challenge

By admin
26 February 2010

Some call it focus, he calls it rhythm. Call it what you like, it’s something that was drilled into Okkert Brits for 20 years and it kicked in again within minutes of being on the Survivor island.

The former Olympic pole-vaulter’s blue eyes are shut tight and his right hand taps rhythmically to each word he utters as he thinks back to the first day on the Mozambican setting of Survivor South Africa: Santa Carolina.

Relaxing at home in Port Elizabeth Okkert (36) looks quite capable of still clearing a pole-vault bar. He quietly retired five years ago but the champion athlete certainly came to the fore again on the island. He approached every challenge as if it were a world-class athletics meet and swatted away his competitors like pesky flies.

He’s not only physically strong but mentally he’s always a step ahead of the other contestants. But we’ll have to wait to see whether his efforts were enough for the prize of half a million rand because he won’t let on for how much longer he’ll still be seen on the island.

“There it’s not about trophies or medals. On the island there are successes every day. Just to get food for the day and to survive is a success. I learnt how to live from day to day there and what a hard day’s work really means.

“I’m racking my brain trying to work out what I can do next that will be better than Survivor,” says the man who’s now a partner in sports equipment supplier Gymnetics.

It was his wife, Jane (30), a Survivor addict, who talked him into taking part. “He really is my favourite in the series - and I’m not just saying that because he’s my husband,” the beauty-salon manager says proudly.

He deliberately thought about Jane and their children, Sarah (4) and David (3), as little as possible.

Okkert first thought he’d hate watching the series at home but now he happily settles in front of the TV on Wednesday evenings.

“I’m ashamed when I look at our shelter now. If I had another chance I’d tear it all down and start again.”

Jane nods in agreement. Her husband is exactly the way you see him on TV: a workhorse who isn’t fussy and excels at everything he does.

“The island certainly wasn’t unpleasant, just hard,” Okkert mutters. “We aren’t called upon to survive in our daily lives any more. It’s good to realise what we’re made for.”

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