SA's new athletics star Gontse Morake wants more

Gontse Morake.
Gontse Morake.
Image: Joosep Martinson/Getty Images

Gontse Morake, the newly-crowned national youth 400m hurdles champion, is destined for greatness.

But the 17-year-old - who set a new national youth record at the weekend - understands only hard work can ensure she emulates her idol Wenda Nel.

Last Friday, on the second day of the Athletics SA (ASA) Youth and Junior Championships at Paarl's Dal Josaphath Stadium, Morake stormed around the track in 57.81 seconds to smash the 57.91 mark set by Gezelle Magerman at the 2014 Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing.

Morake also substantiated her talent by winning another gold medal in the girls triple jump the next day.

"My aim is to grow and run faster times. I wish to achieve what Nel has achieved. I like her a lot. Her build shows how hard-working she is.

"I know only hard work can take me places. Talent is not enough. I am willing to work hard,'' Morake said.

Nel is one of the most successful local 400m hurdles athletes, having won two gold medals at the African Championships in 2014 and 2015 respectively. She also participated at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

"When I was a child I was just running for fun but now I want to see myself becoming one of the world's best 400m hurdles athletes.''

Morake, who is coached by SA's national triple jump champion Reneilwe Aphane at Prestige College in Pretoria, has set her sights on the Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires, Argentina later this year.

The Johannesburg-born budding star hopes the times she clocked in Paarl at the weekend will secure her a berth in the final team to represent SA in Argentina.

"I am hoping I will make it to the Youth Olympics. I think I have met the qualifying standards already after the times I ran [in Paarl].

"I will be training very hard because I want to win gold.

"Sometimes, it is not easy to juggle school and athletics but I have weekend classes and maybe they will organise some night classes as well,'' concluded the Grade 12 pupil.