Gatlin glitzes up Green Point

Mujahied Ismail of Itheko Athletics Club (right) puts daylight between him and his fellow competitors during the boys u.16 60m hurdles at the Western Province Athletics little league event at Green Point Athletics Stadium on Saturday 12 October. Ismail, who hails from Mitchell’s Plain, is the current South African champ in the 300m hurdles.PHOTOs: Rashied Isaacs
Mujahied Ismail of Itheko Athletics Club (right) puts daylight between him and his fellow competitors during the boys u.16 60m hurdles at the Western Province Athletics little league event at Green Point Athletics Stadium on Saturday 12 October. Ismail, who hails from Mitchell’s Plain, is the current South African champ in the 300m hurdles.PHOTOs: Rashied Isaacs

Young athletes between eight and 13 from all over Cape Town gathered at Green Point Athletics Stadium on Saturday 12 October for Western Province Athletics’ “Little Athletics” event and open event.

The occasion was made all the more special with the presence of three-time Olympic gold medallist Justin Gatlin, who along with fellow Olympian Sharrieffa Barksdale, were on the lookout for the best young athletic talent to form part of their Born 2 Be Elite programme.

The annual Little Athletics series started on Saturday, 28 September at Vygieskraal.

These events introduce children to track and field activities and offer a series of competitions that promote a “be your best” attitude.

The emphasis is on fun, participation, performance and improving technique. The aim of the programme reflects WPA’s mission and particularly focuses on promoting positive attitudes and a healthy lifestyle through family and community involvement in athletic activities.

Born 2 Be Elite, has a vision to build a long-term programme that creates an international “speed” community, with South Africa being identified as the initial focus area for the initiative. The aim is to develop: communities, athletes, coaches, resources and infrastructure.

The long-term programme is to cultivate grassroots sports programmes in community hubs, as well as developing an elite squad through the latest technology.

Gatlin and Barksdale wowed crowds, with Gatlin vowing that they aim to expand the programme locally. “We have a couple of ideas we want to bring to light for Born to be Elite, to partner with other athletes as well to be able to enrich the programme here,” he says, adding that the local hospitality has had him awestruck.

“I am loving it here, this is like a second home to me,” he added, before providing some wisdom for young athletes to hold true to. Keep believing in yourself. Keep dreaming. Don’t let anyone take your dream away from you. It’s going to be hard sometimes and like the sun, there is also the rain. Remember the hard times and keep believing in yourself.”

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