South Africa has a good story to tell

2014-04-07 15:38

Akin to the film Chariots of Fire, the 2014 Spar Ladies' Race held in Cape Town, produced a lead character who not only embodied something of Eric Liddell but oozed of joy that flows from a very deep place.

"Every time I run, I am not on my own." Annie Bothma says as she describes her running journey.

Annie Bothma representing Western Province

On first seeing Annie Bothma, one would never imagine she can run 10km in 35 minutes! Annie, a living miracle is an 18 year old girl from Cape Town, South Africa who loves to run. Much smaller than most girls her age, Annie could easily pass for a 13 or 14 year old; that is until you begin to speak with her. Gifted with the speed and wisdom of a seasoned athlete, Annie took up running at the age of 13 and has only been running competitively for just over a year. In the year Annie has been running, she has achieved much more than many athletes dream of achieving in a lifetime.

The rising star has not only raced against girls her age but has given elite athletes from Africa and beyond a run for their money. Annie has won a number of road races in the South Africa, sweeping clean fields of thousands of runners averaging over 30 years of age. Her exploits on track and road have attracted a sponsorship deal with shoe manufacturers, Newton Running.

Annie and her coach Bennie Stander at the Western Province Sports Awards

Among Annie’s greatest accomplishments are:

5000m SA Junior Championship

10 Km SA Junior Championship

Still 17, Annie represented South Africa at the World Cross Country Championships in Poland and also donned the national colours at the Southern African Championships in 2013. She has also won various awards in the Western Province and smashed every record there is to break in her age category.

Some of Annie’s personal bests in the various running disciplines are as follows:

5000m 17min 20sec

10km 35min 06 sec

15km 56min 41 sec

21.1km 1hr 19min 40 sec

Annie representing the Nedbank Running Club

From a young age, Annie has struggled with her health. Often being told she was underweight, too weak and would never lead a normal life, let alone excel in sport. Annie defied the odds and surprised medical practitioners who believed her little body could not cope with the demands of long distance running. It would have been easy to succumb to health complications that have plagued her all her life but despite being in hospital only a week before the Spar Ladies Race, Annie was determined to take part in the race and managed to complete the 10km race in just over 36 minutes, just a couple of minutes behind the eventual winner and Olympian Rene Kalmer who made the top 10.

Though Annie attributes her successful running career to God, she still emphasises that practise is vital for success and makes things easier. As a student doing her final year in high school, she manages to balance her time between following her passion and successfully pursuing her studies.

Apart from running, Annie loves the great outdoors, spending time up in the mountains and walking her dogs. A young woman of many talents, Annie also finds joy in expressing herself artistically through painting, textile design and drawing.

In the years to come, Annie hopes to become the fastest woman in South Africa and on the world stage. One of the many good stories coming out of South Africa. Stories authored by individuals who dare to try, despite their limitations. The Spar Women's race has given girls like Annie, a platform to showcase their talent and attracts elite runners from across Southern Africa. The race is open to all runners whether they desire to run it to win it or simply run for fun. The 2014 Cape Town edition of the race was officially opened by Western Cape Premier, Hellen Zille. The race attracted over 22 000 runners and the next four legs of the race will be held in South Africa's major cities through the year. The race is becoming popular with runners from all over the African continent and rewarding young runners like Annie financially and giving them a platform to showcase their running talent. The Spar Ladies Race winning team in the Junior Category Regardless of where we find ourselves in life, whether as professionals, students, politicians, leaders, parents or friends, if we approach life with the attitude like that of Annie Bothma, we will have many more stories to tell.

The results of the Spar Ladies Race for the Cape town Leg were as follows:

Open: 1 Diana Lebo Phalula (Maxed Elite) 33.03; 2 Hunduma Gemeda (Nedbank CGA) 33.12; 3 Nolene Conrad (Boxer AC) 33.28; 4 Rutendo Nyahora (Nedbank CGA) 33.30; 5 Mapaseka Makhanya (Boxer AC) 33.59; 6 Tadesse Shankule (Nedbank CGA) 34.06; 7 Christene Kalmer (Boxer AC) 34.36; 8 Rene Kalmer (Modern Athlete) 34.37; 9 Zintle Martin (Maxed Elite) 34.38; 10 Jenna Challenor (Boxer AC) 34.40

Juniors: 1 Annie Bothma 36.16; 2 Pamela Moyikwa 38.18; 3 Nicole Van Der Merwe 39.11; 4 Ileana Dreyer 40.53; 5 Clairiece Slingers 41.22

Age group 40-49: 1 Ronel Thomas 38.25; 2 Janene Carey 38.30; 3 Lana Theunissen 40.32

Age group 50-59: 1 Elmarie Coetzee 40.17; 2 Mariette Strauss 40.39; 3 Viv Williams 41.22

Age group 60-69: 1 Nancy Will 48.32; 2 Helen du Plessis 49.10; 3 Pixie Sparg 51.27

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