'If you trust yourself, then you'll do it' - 17-year-old Walaza runs 10.36 at Schools Meet
At just 17 years old, Bayanda Walaza is one of South Africa's most promising athletic prospects. And if you haven't heard of this schoolboy sprinting phenom then try this: 10.36. That is the time that the man from Katlehong ran to win the U19 boys 100m race at last week's Curro Hazeldean Top 14 Athletics Meet which took place at the Pilditch Stadium on Wednesday the 28th of January. What's even more amazing is the confidence of the man who boldly announced after his lightening quick run, that he had been expecting to run even faster.
"I feel happy about my race. I enjoyed it," he told #TheTopRunner moments after that personal best performance. "I'm happy but not 100% happy because I was expecting a 10.2 or even a 10.1. But then I appreciate what I get. Training was hard because everyone knows that training in December is not nice. But then if you trust yourself and if you believe that one day you'll be something, then you'll do it. So that was me. That's what I did."
Having first made a name for himself when he won the SA U18 200m title and took silver in the 100m at the Athletics South Africa U18 Championships in Pietermaritzburg, Walaza enjoyed a breakout season in 2023 which culminated in wining a bronze medal in the 100m at the African U18 Championships in Zambia. Having recently joined Curro from Hoërskool Vorentoe where he his talent was first developed, Walaza says he began to realise that he could make it as a sprinter when he caught the eye Vorentoe's athletics scouts as a primary school pupil.
"I started seeing my talent in Grade 7 because I also had a dream of becoming one of the best athletes but I started seeing it when I got an athletics bursary to Vorentoe. That's when I noticed that this thing can take me far," said the man who holds a 21.10 200m PB. "It was easy to adapt because when I arrived here there were a shortage of sprinters and lots of long distance runners. It started being serious last year when we got serious coaches for sprinters. That's when I noticed that it's time!"
Now competing in the navy blue of Curro, the man who turns 18 on the 9th of February has set down an early season marker that his competitors will be eyeing as the track and field season unfolds. And many of those competitors will be clad in the navy, red and white of Die Hoërskool Menlopark who have dominated schools track and field in Gauteng North for some time now. But armed with their new star, Curro Hazeldean are confident that they can accumulate more team points to dethrone the region's traditional athletics powerhouse at the next big inter-high schools meet.
"To win this first meet of the season is actually amazing. The fact that we worked so hard together and trusted one another and decided to bring our A-Game shows that it's only the start," said one of Walaza's Curro teammates as they held aloft the trophy they received for winning the Curro Hazeldean Top 14 Athletics Meet. And with Menlo not taking part on that day, the obvious question was whether or not they would still be holding the trophy if their crosstown rivals had taken part. "We are ready for them. Let them come!"