Paige Horn is of the new generation of South African lifesaving athletes who sees a professional future in the sport.
Horn, just 16-years-old, represented Team South Africa’ juniors at the 2018 World Championships in Adelaide, Australia. She won a bronze medal and her goal is to return to Australia and compete on the Australian circuit, which is the strongest among lifesaving’s international circuits.
Horn’s Umhlanga Rocks team-mate, Connor Botha, this year enjoyed a huge summer of success in Australia and has alternated between South Africa and Australia in the past six months.
Botha’s performances in Australia and South Africa have been outstanding, which has only reinforced Horn’s post-matric sporting ambition.
Horn, who was a standout at the recent Wimpy KwaZulu-Natal Club Championships, was among the favourites for the cancelled Wimpy Lifesaving South Africa National Club Championship, which would have taken place in Port Elizabeth from 19-25 March.
The national club championships represent the highlight of the domestic season, with 1 700 athletes from 40 clubs competing. The cancellation was consistent with all other sporting events being called off because of the Corona Virus.
Lifesaving’s world championships, to have been held in Italy in September, has also been cancelled because of the coronavirus.
Horn may still get to see international action for Team South Africa at the 2020 Sanyo Bussan Cup, which is scheduled for 20-21 June in Fukuoka, Japan, and what makes her selection remarkable is that it is for the senior women.
Horn bleeds green and gold, lists her first world championship experience in Australia as her sporting highlight, and will always have a love affair with Australia and lifesaving because it was at the 2018 World Championships that Horn won a bronze medal and her father, Nic, also won bronze in the flags for Masters.
The Horn family are all qualified lifeguards and it was Paige’s dedication to the sport that flicked the switch in dad Nic’s transformation to a world championship medal winner.
‘I made the finals of the sprints and surfski and to win a bronze was phenomenal,’ said Nic. ‘But my proudest moment was seeing Paige win the bronze in the taplin relay. It was such a moment for my wife Wendy and I. We both understand the time and effort Paige puts into her training and the dedication she has for the sport. She has such a great attitude and is always smiling, no matter the challenge. In fact, she inspired me to go further in the sport.’
Paige Horn says having parents involved in the sport has made it that much easier because of the support she gets.
‘My parents have always been willing to transport me wherever, regardless of the time of day. They are up early, get me to training, to school and then get themselves to work. They do everything in their power to help me make my dreams come true. I am so grateful to them and for them.’
Horn’s versatility in so many different disciplines is among her strengths, and while she loves the sea, there is a respect for the environment in which she competes.
‘I love that it is never boring. The sea is unpredictable and you never know what is going to happen. I love the ocean and the sport, so lifesaving is the perfect combination.’
* Horn, combined with Alice Edward, Ally Chislett and Kira Bester to win bronze at the most recent World Championships in the taplin relay
** Horn, in 2018, won Lifesaving South Africa’s junior female athlete of the year award