Gouws grateful for Youth Olympics experience - TeamSA
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Gouws grateful for Youth Olympics experience

Gouws

Rut Gouws might not have returned from Buenos Aires with the results she wanted at the 2018 Youth Olympic Games, but the South African kiteboarder is confident that she is up there with the best.

Gouws, back in Stilbaai, knew that if what she planned came together, she would compete with the top kiteboarders in the world. The 15-year-old finished the inaugural Olympic kiteboarding competition 10th overall, and due to some circumstances, she was unable to compete in all her races.

When she was out on the water, the teenager managed to produce promising results, and was not shy to display her skills on the board.

‘On the second day the wind was stronger than the first and the competition went better. I improved from ninth to seventh, then to fifth in the next three eliminations,’ Gouws explained. ‘I won the B final but because it is the B final you cannot get a higher place than seventh. My overall position was eighth at that stage.’

The next day did not yield the same results for Gouws, as the lack of wind meant that she could not get to the course 4km offshore and missed two eliminations, costing her maximum points.

‘The following day was extremely cold and the wind was strong, just the way I like it. When it was time for my race, they changed the course and the wind dropped. Then an official told me and another competitor our race was cancelled, but we still ran race.

‘Due to the unfavourable conditions, they gave us both a redress, which meant that they gave us an average of our points, which were my worst two scores. After three eliminations that I did not race in, I moved down to 10th place overall, and did not race for the rest of that day,’ Gouws said.

As a result of the unpredictable weather and lack of wind, the organisers decided the competition would go straight to the finals, which featured the top eight athletes. This meant that the Youth Olympic journey for the kiteboarder had come to a disappointing finish, which was a learning experience for her.

‘I think in the conditions and circumstances, I did what I could. I was very disappointed that I missed some races. If I was able to compete in those other three eliminations, I know I would have had a very good chance to be in the top five at least, but I’m still happy to be 10th.

‘It’s a huge stepping stone to be part of the Youth Olympics, but it also taught me that there is always going be tough competition and things aren’t always going to go as planned, but you’ve just got to keep on going,’ Gouws added.

The only Team SA sailing athlete at the Games further commented, ‘I loved the vibe, everyone was excited, happy and friendly. They made a lot of effort to make the village pretty and there were lots of activities we could attend if we wanted to. Although my competition venue was a two-hour bus drive away – which was very tiring every morning and evening again – I still enjoyed the whole experience very much.’

Gouws says her personal highlights were to get a taste of the Olympic experience, ‘The biggest highlight was probably the moment I walked into the village wearing the green and gold, and when I was competing against the best out there.’

Photo: Gouws and her coach Tyrone Rawlins with the Youth Olympic mascot. Supplied by Griet Gouws


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