By Mark Etheridge
South Africa’s only 2014 Youth Olympics medallist, Gezelle Magerman’s post-school athletics career has been something of a rude awakening.
The talented West Coast athlete who won gold in the 400-metre hurdles in Nanjing, China, has made the move from Vredenburg to Pretoria where she’s lined up with top hurdles coach Irma Reyneke.
And this year is an important one, with IAAF World Junior Championships (Under-18) taking place in Poland, something which Reyneke has targeted as an important goal.
Clearly with 2015 being her matric year at La Rochelle in Paarl, Magerman’s focus was more on studies than speed, something she was all too aware off when Road to Rio 2016 spoke to her briefly on Wednesday.
‘No, look this was a tough first session,’ she grinned. ‘There was a new atmosphere and new faces [many of whom I met at last year’s training camp].
‘But it it’s going to be okay, I must just dig deep and push on through.’ Something which shouldn’t be a problem for the talented teen, who was certainly one of the more focused athletes in the SA team at Youth Olympics.
She’ll be studying Sports Science at Tukkies and says ‘my target time for this year will be a sub 56sec at least.’ She ran 57.97 when she won gold in China.
‘I also want to qualify for World Juniors.’
Elaborating further, coach Reyneke went on: ‘Naturally Gezelle didn’t train as hard last year because of her matric commitments and she was taking part in all of the school’s activities. The fact that she’s now made the move from the Cape to Gauteng will also have an influence as she get used to university life.
‘Looking ahead one of our goals will be to make World Juniors, reach the final and then give everything from there.’
‘As far as her training goes I’ll just be using her first two weeks to see exactly what level she’s at and then develop a programme based on that. Her first session today was 5x300m and I can see that she’s got a fair amount of work ahead.
‘She’s very talented and I don’t want to see her injured so we’ll just get her going for the first two weeks, not too much, too soon.
‘I can see she’s a very hard worker and wanted to finish the session even though it was tough.
‘I’d give her three months to get into the routine then she should be ready for SA seniors. Her goal there will be a medal at seniors level, last year she was fourth. She’s very positive and has a will to win.’
Picture of Magerman training at the HPC, courtesy of Reg Caldecott