Katlehong AC's 11-year-old Myeki shines with 3:38 1200m clocking at CGA Sub Youth Provincial Champs
Not since the 2017 World Championships has South African won a major athletics medal on the global stage. And whenever the national team returns from an Athletics World Championships or Olympic Games without a track and field or road running medal, the inevitable avalanche of armchair critics begin their keyboard tirades about the lack of grassroots development being the root cause of the lack of international success at the senior level. But the evidence suggests otherwise.
For example, for the umpteenth time, Central Gauteng Athletics hosted a very successful Sub Youth (Primary School age) track and field competition. This time it was the CGA Provincial Championships which took place following three Sub Youth league meetings where athletes had to participate in at least two plus the provincial championships in order to meet the CGA selection criteria. The action at the Germiston Stadium on Saturday 18 November revealed the true strength in depth of athletics development in Central Gauteng.
Look for example at the girls U7 60m which was dominated by athletes from the I Have Talent Club. Mieke Van Wyk won in well under 10 seconds (9.51), while her teammate Lume Erasmus claimed second position in 9.93 seconds. Third place went to I Have Talent's Elzane Coetzee who clocked 10.11 as the club swept the podium. In addition to sprinting talent on display, one young man also announced himself a future middle distance star.
Andiphile Myeki of the Katlehong Athletic Club dominated the Boys U11 1200m event winning gold in 3:38:00 ahead of the Boxer Athletic Club's Philani Luthuli (3:48.54), while was Armand Botha of UTS clocked 3:49.34 for the bronze medal. And what is particularly encouraging about Myeki's victory is that the Grade 6 learner is relatively knew to the sport of athleics after joining Katlehong Athletics Club in January 2023.
“We discovered Andiphile through our school shoes drive. When we went to Tamaho Primary School in Mandela informal settlement, one of the school teachers suggested that we inherit their school athletes. Through training and conditioning, we have seen a significant improvement particularly on his strides. We are proud to see our development athletes continuing to do so well with Siyabonga Mbatha also in New York USA through scholarship,” said Lwandise Mbhele, coach at Katlehong Athletics Club.
On the basis of their performances at the Provincial Championships, Myeki van Wyk and others are likely to be be selected to represent the province at the Sub Youth Track and Field Inter ProvincialChampionships taking place in Mpumalanga on the 2nd of December 2023. The question now is what becomes of these talented athletes once they reach the senior level? Does South Africa have the high performance structures to transform a talented junior like Myeki into an Olympic medalist? Perhaps that's the real question.