South African swimmer Michelle Weber, 16, will make her senior international debut at the short course World Championship in Turkey in December, reports Gareth Duncan.
While Roland Schoeman and Cameron van der Burgh have already withdrawn from the major event because of injury, one youngster who’s excited for the trip to Istanbul is KZN-based Weber.
She’s already had a memorable year, having won the SA women’s and Junior World Championship open water titles. This saw her nominated for the Newcomer of the Year accolade at the annual SA Sports Awards. She also won a bronze medal in the 800m freestyle at the 2011 Commonwealth Youth Games in the Isle of Man.
Now she’ll prepare for her first senior international outing at the short course World Championships, which will run from 12-16 December.
Weber believes this experience will help her reach the goal of qualifying for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.
‘Competing in tournaments, like the World Championship in Turkey, is important because if I want to be one of the top swimmers in the world, I need to swim against the best on a regular basis,’ Weber told RoadtoRio.co.za. ‘I will also continue taking part in open water tournaments. I’ll be competing in the senior World Championships in Barcelona, Spain next year.
‘Competing in pool and open water competitions shouldn’t hamper my chances in either code,’ she adds. ‘I’m happy with all my performances in the tournaments I’ve competed in so far. The great thing is that I will improve as I gain more experience.’
Two-time Olympic medalist Chad le Clos will spearhead the 23-man South African swimming team in Istanbul. Ironically, he’s one of Weber’s inspirations.
‘Seeing a young guy like Chad win two medals at his first Games in London makes me believe I can do the same, especially considering I’ll be a similar age in Rio,’ said Weber.