PDBY chatted to Rikenette Steenkamp (one of TuksSport’s successful hurdlers) on her recent travels to Glasgow, her achievements, and her aspirations.
What made you first become an athlete and what specifically made you choose hurdles?
When I was six years old, in primary school, I just loved sport, especially athletics. I wanted to run. Technically, I only started running hurdles in high school during grade 10. Even though I was a mediocre [athlete] from a young age, I started hurdles, and the first time I ran it, I realized it was what I wanted to do and that it made me stand out a bit. ‘
What is your biggest achievement and why do you consider it to be that?
I have to single out two races. The first race was when I broke the national record in the 100m hurdle. It was a 21 year old record so it had been a while since it was broken. I’ve always had my mind on this record and it took me 7 years to achieve this. Secondly, I competed at the world championships in 2019 after returning from an injury. Making this comeback and going through to the semi-finals, I ended up placing sixteenth in the world, which is a personal achievement.
What is the best piece of advice that you have received from someone for your specific skill?
I would say that what I’ve learnt through the years is that less is more. What I mean by that is that a quality hurdle session is better than quantity. On the mental side, I’ve also learnt that sometimes we don’t see ourselves as achievers when competing against foreigners but we are all equal and we need to step out and be bold.
What are you hoping to accomplish in the year 2020?
This year is a big year it is an Olympic year. Firstly it was a new experience for me to do indoor sports, so my first goal was to experience the indoor season. I am also looking forward to the South African season and Nationals. Lastly, I’d also like to qualify for the Olympic finals
How was your recent experience in Glasgow? Did you learn anything valuable?
It was my first indoor race ever and I’ve never competed indoors so it was a bold decision. In the run-up to the event, I had a few hiccups. I only received my visa the morning I flew out so that was stressful. Also, on my way there I picked up the flu which wasn’t great either. I would not say I was at my best but sometimes you have to go through stressful situations- so I learnt to cope. I kept focus and I did what I went there to do.
What would you suggest to others that do hurdle sprints or are curious?
It is important to have a passion for what you do and enjoy it. Keep having fun, laugh at yourself. If you fall over a hurdle, understand that it happens. Do not be too serious. As an athlete, I was a late bloomer and I think that was the best thing for me. I only became serious when it was required. I would also suggest remembering that you can not achieve anything by yourself, you need people as well. It is a team effort.
What is your record time? And do you feel you can still beat it?
In the 100m hurdles, my time is 12, 81[seconds] and yes I feel I can still beat it. In the indoor 60m hurdles, my time is 8, 29 [seconds] and I feel I can beat it as well.
What is your aspiration in life in terms of being an athlete?
My aspiration is to become the best athlete that I possibly can, to reach my full potential, and to stay true to who I am. I’d like to be a role model for South African athletics and to give back where I can.
Photos: Reg Caldecott