by Nakedi Phala
In South Africa as of late, there’s been a satisfactory rise of females joining the sporting fraternity. Take some time to rewind to the days of South Africa’s very own Zola Pieterse popularly known as Zola Budd who in 1985 broke the 5000-metre world record in Crystal Palace, England. Budd did not have it easy in her athletic career, despite being a world-class athlete, she could not compete in the 1984 Olympic Games as South Africa had been banned from competing before the start of the Tokyo Olympic Games in 1964.
In 1984 Budd was granted a British passport and participated in the British team in Los Angeles Olympics Games that year. In the final of the 3000m race, Budd and Mary Decker, the American favourite to win, accidentally collided. Budd eventually finished seventh, while Decker was carried from the trackside. Although the International Armature Athletics Federation (IAAF) jury found that Budd was not responsible for the collision; she was booed by the crowd who favoured Decker.
Fast-forward to date, the number of females taking part in sport has grown significantly in South Africa. Caster Semenya – middle distance runner, Gezzelle Magrman – hurdle sprinter, Sunette Viljoen – cricket and athletics, Kgothatso Montjani – wheelchair tennis player, these are a few from hundreds of South African sportswomen who make the country proud.
These athletes are rocks – Izimbokodo. In recent news making headlines, prominent athlete Caster Semenya was reported to being in a legal battle with the regulatory body the International Association of Athletics (IAAF) it was pound-for-pound as Minister of Sport and Recreation Tokozile Xasa threw her weight in support of Caster Semenya’s battle. Essentially; the IAAF body seems not to have countries not forming part of the Commonwealth at its benevolence.
While in grade 11 at Rochelle High School in Paarl, Gezzelle Magerman qualified to take part in the Youth Olympics in China – the year 2014. She won the girls 400-metre hurdles event which saw her receive a hero’s welcome at the Cape Town International, where she was cheered by family and friends.
When one speaks of dual talent, it has to be Olympic Silver medallist, South African and Commonwealth javelin throw record holder with a distance of 69.35 metre, Sunnette Viljoen. The 36-year-old represents South Africa in both cricket and athletics very well. As a cricketer she, she represented the South African national team between 2000 and 2002 – including the 2000 World Cup in New Zealand.
Now brand ambassador of Endurance Academy, Elana Meyer, one of South Africa’s sporting great – Olympic medallist, a multiple global record-holder and a world champion – and yet she still strives to excel beyond her elite athletic career. She has devoted to achieving youth development through sport, coaching, motivating young and upcoming athletes and she is a founding director of ENDUROCAD that is helping put young athletes struggling to breakthrough to a professional level at par with elite athletes.
Sport is another weapon that a young woman can use to eradicate poverty in their family and community. Sponsors are now seeing the need to sponsor female athletes with the same donor male athletes receives – eliminating sexism and commercial prejudice.
Women have fought tooth-and-nail to belong to soccer leagues, sports clubs, and other sporting codes that have had sexist codes of conduct. The fight is not over as some faculties refuse to change. Aluta Continua.