The Jeppe Elite Athletes programme is in full swing and the boys are training daily and competing in meetings every week.
That’s the word from Director of Sport Mr Brendan Gittins, who explains that the school decided that if we were to take athletics seriously we would have to go beyond the third term mass participation programme and offer further opportunities to boys who choose athletics as their main sport.
“So we provide coaching and arrange for participation at this time of the year to our top athletes, and to those who may not be the very best but are, nonetheless, keen on competing,” he said.
The top athletes get to appear on a bigger stage, and to challenge themselves against the best in their age groups and a number of them have shown themselves to be up for it.
“We find that our middle distance runners and jumpers, in particular, are up with the best in the province,” Mr Gittins said.
And provincial representation is part of the incentive. The athletes participate in a variety of meetings including the Puma Speed Series and the “top 10 and top 20” meetings arranged by various schools and universities, and they lead to the regional and provincial championships and, eventually to the SA champs for schools and for clubs.
“These athletes are getting themselves ready to perform well for Jeppe in inter-school events later in the year, but at this stage it’s about individual development and performance,” Mr Gittins said.
“It’s in line with our general philosophy that if a boy wants to become good at a particular sport, we will back him and give him the opportunity to do that. We are lucky to have a full time coach in Tannie Elize Smit and we have a number of dedicated teachers helping out at this time of the year. They are out at Germiston Stadium every afternoon, working with the boys.”
Among those who have been medalists so far have been Mzwakhe Mashaba in the under-16 1500m; Moshe Kananelo in the under-14 long jump; and Lesedi Moloto in the under-15 long jump.