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  • Writer's pictureMosibodi Whitehead

Johnson qualifies for Tokyo to underline Diamond Athletics Club's work to develop future champions

Updated: Mar 4, 2021

Long jump rising star Cheswill Johnson became the latest South African athlete to qualify for the Olympic Games when he leapt to 8.27m at the Athletics Gauteng North (AGN) Bestmed TUKS Track and Field meeting in Pretoria on Saturday. His jump which was 5cm beyond the Olympic qualification standard was his second effort in excess of eight meters in a week, after he opened the season with an 8.02 at the Central Gauteng Athletics track & field meet a week ago.

"Last year I was in the zone, I was in the Olympic mood. I was focussed on qualifying but Covid hit us and there's nothing anyone could do about it," said the 23-year old from Eden Park east of Johannesburg. "So we just had to chill and work hard at home, but eventually this season looks like it's going to be a really good season and I'm really looking forward to it," Johnson told #TheTopRunner

Cheswill Johnson from Eden Park is on his way to the Olympics after jumping 8.27m on Saturday to qualify for Tokyo 2021. Photo Credit: Roger Sedres.

That the University of Johannesburg student is on the verge of gracing one of world sport's ultimate arenas is a testament to the the years of work that went in to polishing his talent. Johnson is one of several diamonds in the rough which have been discovered by the Diamond family. Led by John Diamond and his wife Maria, the Germiston-based Diamond Athletics Club has made it tit's mission to afford youngsters the opportunity to use their athletic talents to excel at life.

"Cheswill and his brother Elviano have been with us since 2016/17," said John who is also president of the Germiston Local Sport Confederation. "My wife embraced them as her own children. That's what we do with all the children that join us. We were blessed with five talented kids. All of them participated at SA champs, all of them got bursaries, all of them got university degrees," Diamond explained.

Maria and John Diamond pose for a photo with one of their future champions. Photo Credit: Diamond Athletics Club.

With Maria handling the coaching and John the administration, the pair have formed a formidable team that taking what they learned from grooming their own successful children and applying it to promising young athletes from difficult backgrounds. "We got a Elviano a bursary from Tuks because he has so much talent and he completed his Matric last year. Cheswill should be on all the billboards in Ekurhuleni so that he can inspire all the youngsters," said John. "We are so inspired and humbled by his performance," he added.

The magnitude of his achievement in the context of what it means to children of his community is not lost on the soon-to-be-Olympian. "I have to shout out the Diamond family for introducing me to athletics because without them I wouldn't even be here. They allowed me to blossom and when I got to UJ I fully blew up," he shared. "That's why I even tell people don't get complacent with what you have. Work for the future. Never stay comfortable, always work hard," said Johnson.

To continue doing their sports development work, the Diamond Athletics Club require a 10-seater combi. Many of the youngsters hoping to follow in Cheswill's footsteps live in crime-ridden neighbourhoods and are forced to walk home through dangerous streets after training. John and Maria believe ferrying the kids to and from training will with a sponsored bus would be a solution to keep their athletes safe while encouraging still more talented youngsters to join the club. Contact #TheTopRunner and we can put you in touch with The Diamond Famliy.

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