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  • Writer's pictureMosibodi Whitehead

Erasmus leads medal hopefuls as SA World Athletics U20 Championships team is named

Having already won a medal at a major championship event this year, all eyes will be on Ashley Erasmus to repeat the feat when she represents South Africa once again. The 19-year-old discus and shot put specialist is one of forty youngsters that have been included in the preliminary squad chosen to represent the country at the World Athletics U20 Championships in Peru at the end of August. Erasmus who is likely to be named in the final squad when it is announced next month, will be hoping to continue with the 2024 form that has seen her throw 16.98 to win the gold medal against the seniors at the African Games in Ghana in March.

"It was absolutely amazing there," she told #TheTopRunner. "The competition was great. The atmosphere was great. It was a great experience to be there and compete amongst all the big athletes. It's quite fun competing against the older athletes because they are on another level. So the competition is stronger," said the Athletics Mpumalanga (AMPU) teenager who also won the SA Senior shot put title with a personal best 17.27 in Pietermaritzburg in April.

Erasmus poses with her gold medal in Accra after winning the shot put at the African Games. Photo Credit: Athletics Mpumalanga.

Coached by her father in Nelspruit, Erasmus started showing promise as a thrower during her Primary School years. She recalls that it was in Grade 4 that she was first introduced to the throws. But although she showed some ability, it was left to her father to find a way of getting her a competent coach in an area where there are precious little.

"We are in Mpumalanga and there aren't a lot of coaches there, so I had to take the burden of teaching her from a young age. We never considered going to someone in Gauteng. We went to a coaching course at Die Höerskool Menlopark way back when Ashley was u12 and she told us that we need to learn to do it ourselves. That's what I've done and it's been working for us. She has confidence when she throws and when she trains she gives it her all. She pitches up at every training session. She's diligent and hardworking," said Mr. Erasmus.

Erasmus has been in fine form over the last 18 months. In 2023 she was named Mpumalanga Sports Woman of the Year. Photo Credit: Höerskool Nelspruit.

Armed with this sensible approach to coaching and the confidence of knowing that she has already been beating the seniors, the Höerskool Nelspruit Matriculant will be one of Team SA's medal hopefuls in Lima. And with a spot at the University of Southern California already secured, the young woman who also won the African U20 title in Zambia last year, says her entire 2024 season has been building towards a good performance in both the shot put and discuss in South America.

"The big one that I'm looking at this year is the U20 World Championship," she explained. "The discuss needs a little bit more work. We are gonna work on it and maybe something will just click and the distance will come. But for now I definitely prefer the shot put. I feel very positive and happy. There's nothing like competing for South Africa."

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