"I just love staying in the air" - 15-year old long jumper and sprint sensation Steven Sabino
"I'm not going to lie. I actually love the adrenalin rush!" These were the carefree words of a fourteen year old Steven De Figueiredo Sabino when we first interviewed him about his talent for running. Born in Mozambique and raised in Johannesburg, this future champion has been setting junior track and field meets alight this year with some scorching performances, the most eye-catching of which was a sub 11 second (10.88) 100m clocking at the PUMA School of Speed #2 at the TuksAthletics Stadium at the beginning of November.
And it's not just in the sprint events where the now fifteen year old excels. Sabino is a more than competent long jumper. "Jumping...I just love staying in the air," giggled the young man who has already leapt beyond seven meters. The King Edwards School pupil won the North West University's Top 30 schools meet, beating the best in his age group by over half a meter with a jump of 7.05m. That mark is not far off the 7.82m SA U18 record set by a young Khotso Mokoena 20 years ago. Those close to him say what sets Steven apart is his discipline.
"He's consistency is excellent! Steven is very self-disciplined. Steven is the first to be at training and the last to leave. He sends us videos during December to show us what he is doing. And to close the year with such great achievements in both the 100m sprints and the long jump is amazing, especially because he is still just 15,"said an excited John Diamond who runs the administrative side of the Diamond Athletics Club while assisting head coach and wife Maria with the more technical aspects of athletics coaching at the Johannesburg Stadium.
The Diamonds have big dreams for this talented teen and believe the best is yet to come. "He broke the U10 SA Boys 80m record (10.83) and that's why his father brought him to us when he was 11 years old. Our trajectory for his performances is to ensure that he starts to go consistently sub 11.00 in the 100m and 7.20m in the long jump. Watch out come March 2022 because he might even qualify for the World Athletics U20 Championships in Colombia with a 10.50 in the 100m," beamed a confident Diamond.
But for the man himself it's all still just about simply having fun. "I actually have fun in between, speaking to my friends and enjoying myself," said Sabino, who won his very first Gauteng district competition when he began running as an 8-year old. Asked about his dreams for the future, his response spoke of a maturity beyond his years taking it all in his sub 11 second stride. "It's just that I take it step by step so if I jump a PB, I'm happy. If I run a PB, I'm happy. If I actually get to that Olympic stage, I'll be happy. I just like to take it step by step," he said.