'I'm too stubborn to quit' - Jo-Ane van Dyk headlines All Africa Games athletics team
"I'm just too stubborn, too stubborn to quit." That was Jo-Ane van Dyk's answer when asked why she has succeeded where others have failed. The University of the North West student is the country's leading javelin thrower and is aiming to go one step further in 2024. At last year's World Championships in Hungary, van Dyk reached the final finishing in tenth place after making her Olympic debut at Tokyo 2021. And with an Olympics coming in Paris in just a few months time the reigning African Champion is ready to for the big time.
"Olympic gold," she told #TheTopRunner when asked about the dream that she has been relentlessly towards. "I recently read a book about having a dream and having in your mind. Your whole vision and your whole lifestyle should be towards that dream. I'm still young and I think we give up too early. I've always known that 26/27 is where we only start peaking."
With that in mind the 25-year-old has been working on making sure that she can make the best of this Olympic opportunity. The success of the 2023 season which saw her compete well in both the South African track and field (March/April) and the European season (July/August) has left her and coach Terseus Liebenberg with a model of how to go about tackling the year ahead.
"In 2021 I went to competitions where I had an emotional connection. For example I went back to the first place I threw over 60 metres. But in 2023 I changed that. I chose my competitions not because I had an emotional connection with it but because I want to do good. I made more logical decisions. Then at World Championships I got into the final. So my coach and I worked very hard to peak at the right time which is important here in South Africa where we have such a long season," explained the woman who hails from Heidelberg in the Cape and is the owner of a 61.61 personal best set in 2022.
With the vision clear and the plan prepared the four-time SA Champion will take one her first major competition of the year at the African Games. The South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) has named a squad of 226 athletes to represent South Africa at the 13th edition of the mutli-sport Games to be held in Accra, Ghana from 8-23 March. The Athletics team boasts 41 members where van Dyk is one of four (Mpho Links, Taylon Biedlt and Ischke Senekal) returning medalists who stood on the podium at 2023 African Games in Morocco.SASCOC President Barry Hendricks correctly points out that in an Olympic year, the preceding African Games are often a good indicator of impending Olympic success.
"It is a big squad that shows the commitment South Africa has to competing in the major African events, while also providing opportunities for athletes to compete at the highest level. The African Games have historically been a successful springboard for Team SA athletes who have gone on to claim world championship and international glory. All of Penny Heyns (six golds in 1995 Harare and 1999 Johannesburg), Chad le Clos (9 golds across Maputo in 2011 and Brazzaville in 2015) and Caster Semenya (gold in 2015 in Brazzaville), were some of the African Games champions who were also Olympic gold medallists," he said.
All Africa Games ATHLETICS Team
Antonio Alkana, Alan Cumming, Keegan Fourie, Lindukuhle Gora, Victor Hogan,
Gardeo Isaacs, Mpho Links, Precious Mashele, Thabang Mosiako, Asande Mthembu,
Sizwe Nbebele, Anele Nzqanzwa, Friedrich Pretorius, Francois Prinsloo, Tumisang
Shezi, Douw Smit, Valco van Wyk
Taylon Bieldt, Miranda Coetzee, Ashley Erasmus, Marione Fourie, Zeney Geldenhuys,
Jessica Groenewald, Nicole Janse van Rensburg, Phindile Kubheka, Joviale Mbisha,
Nwabisa Mjoli, Shirley Nekhubui, Mire Reinstorf, Ischke Senekal, Banele Shabangu,
Yolande Stander, Angelique Strydom, Tonet Tallie, Tamzin Thomas, Collett Uys,
Mckyla van der Westhuizen, Jo-Ane van Dyk, Jana van Schalkwyk, Shannon Verster,