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  • Writer's pictureMosibodi Whitehead

Wiepke Schoeman sets sights on World Cross Country Champs

At 17 years old, Wiepke Schoeman is one of South Africa's most promising middle and long distance running prospects. Over the last two to three year, the youngster from Hoërskool Zwartkop in Pretoria has slowly built herself into one of the best U20 track and cross country athletes in the country. Having broken 4:40 for the 1500m as a 15-year-old back in 2022, the girl who celebrates her eighteenth birthday in June has already represented South Africa at the highest level.

Last year Schoeman ran in the U20 race at the World Cross Country Championships in Bathurst, Australia where she earned 45th position. "It was the greatest experience of my life. I would do it all again if I can," she told #TheTopRunner.

Schoeman in action for Athletics Gauteng North (AGN). She will be aiming to win more medals for AGN at the ASA U18 and U20 Champs in March 2024. Photo Credit: Supplied.

The eye-opening maiden international experience has left the athlete who is coached by Willie Engelbrecht with a desire to take it up a notch this year. Having qualified for the 2024 edition of the World Cross Country Championships which will take place in Serbia next month, and passed the fitness test administered by Athletics South Africa (ASA) in January, Schoeman is aiming to improve when she dons the green and gold in Belgrade.

"This year in 2024, the World Cross Country Championships are in Serbia and I would love to be in the top 30 and I will give my all to be there," said the young lady who was named ASA Personality of the year at the ASA Awards in January.

Schoeman (right) pictured with coach Willie Engelbrecht and one of her Boxer AC teammates. Photo Credit: Supplied.

In addition to improving as a cross country athlete, Schoeman is also aiming to make inroads into the senior ranks on the track. Still under 19, the matric learner won both the 1500m and the 3000m event at the A-Bond Inter High Schools meet at the Pilditch Stadium in Pretoria last week to underline her dominance at the school level. Armed with that confidence, the Boxer Athletic Club top runner feels she is ready to run against the seniors at the All African Games.

"My goal for this year is to qualify for the ASA U20 Championships and do well in my main event which is the 3000m and maybe even qualify for the African Games in Ghana if I can. I’d really like to do that. But, looking ahead into the future I'd obviously love to go to the Olympic Games - what else is there? And then also if I can, I’d love to run a marathon later in my life and win it."

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