Women in sports have always proven to be a force to be reckoned with. This dates to the first-ever participation of female athletes in the Olympic Games in 1900. This opened doors for generations that followed. We continue to witness women in sports making history, changing rules of the game, breaking records, and showing courage and talent. This is one of the reasons why we are focusing on TuksSport female athletes’ archive over the past years. As much as TuksSport is known to be a home of thrilling sports stars, its female athletes have proven to be more than that.
Caster Semenya is one of the greatest South African athletes. Semenya is amongst the most recognised and famous athletes who began their sporting career at TuksAthletics. It is no surprise that she is a true definition of ‘you strike a woman; you strike a rock.’ She has won numerous medals, broken records and boundaries. Throughout her journey in athletics, she has faced all kinds of obstacles and setbacks, but that has never stopped her from doing what she loves. Instead, it fueled her into doing more and more. To top it off, she recently wrote on her Twitter page “Believe in yourself. Be Positive. Be the wonder. Be fearless. Be a dreamer. Be successful and mind your own business then see how oppressors become obsessed about it. Then you kill them with a smile.” As she continues to push boundaries, she is also paving a way for generations to follow. Her following words share this sentiment, as she Tweeted, “I will continue to fight for the human rights of female athletes, both on and off the track, until we can all run free the way we were born”.
Bridgette Hartley is a South African sprint canoer. She earned her bronze medal in K-1 1000m at the 2009 ICF Canoe Sprint World Championships in Dartmouth. She also won a bronze medal at the 2012 Olympic Games in London and the bronze medal at the K-1 (Kayak Singles – Women) 500m. Hartley became the first South African and African to win a medal at the ICF Canoe Sprint World Championships.
Another heroine in TuksSport is swimmer Tatjana Schoenmaker. To name a few of her achievements; she won two gold medals for breaststroke in the 2018 Commonwealth Games, and two gold medals in 100m as well as 200m for breaststroke at the World Student Games in Napoli, Italy. She is also the first woman in many decades to win a medal at the Commonwealth Games. She is also the first female to win the World Student Games, and is also the first South African woman to win a medal at the World Championships, in the 200m breaststroke. She is a true definition of a record breaker. Her coach Rocco Meiring said to PDBY in an interview in 2020 that “Tatjana can become one of the world’s greatest swimmers, I have no doubt.”
Another force to be reckoned with is South African competitive rower, Kirsten McCann. She and her teammate, Ursula Grobler, competed in the 2016 Summer Olympics (Rio de Janeiro) in the women’s lightweight double sculls – where they finished in 5th place. McCann earned her gold medal in the women’s lightweight single sculls at the 2017 World Rowing Championships.
Lastly,18 year old Prudence Sekgodiso, who is at TuksSport High School, won the 800m women’s race at the Junior Championships and she is claiming her presence in athletics. In her interview with Pretoria News earlier this year, she said that “watching Caster in Berlin at the World Championships winning gold medals, and her coming from Limpopo, I told myself I will follow her footsteps and achieve even more. From the onset I told myself I would have to surpass her achievements to be regarded as the best, and I’m happy with my progress so far.” She begins her sports career focused and determined.
Illustration: Sanele Zulu