PRIDE MATHEBULA

Rynhardt van Rensburg, a Tuks 800m athlete who has represented South Africa at the 2015 World Championship in Beijing, as well as the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, aims for specific numbers in his plans to challenge the stopwatch next year. Van Rensburg reiterated that “the aim is to consistently run times of one minute and 44 seconds or faster. It ought to be good enough to ensure [he is] up there with the front runners”, van Rensburg is optimistic about his upcoming challenges.

Athletes use challenges to motivate themselves, and for van Rensburg it is achievable as he set this one himself. In 2018, in the Netherlands, he ran a personal best time of 1:45.15. However, his major breakthrough has not yet happened. Interestingly, he has quickly gotten close to reaching a peak. Injuries seem to be the only obstacles that hinder him. Towards the end of 2019, van Rensburg’s momentum was slowed down by a hip injury. Injuries are a common challenge for athletes, and they can be frustrating.

 

the aim is to consistently run times of one minute and 44 seconds or faster. It ought to be good enough to ensure [he is] up there with the front runners

 

Van Rensburg is grateful for the lockdown that was enforced by the government as a responsive and preventative measure to the COVID-19 pandemic. This lockdown has provided his body with much needed time to recover. Van Rensburg has made the most of his time away from the track, such as using this time to improve on his XBox skills.The athlete is still thinking about what race tactics will work for him. As a junior, van Rensburg enjoyed and preferred to race from the front, but when he started running against the “elder statesmen”, he opted for a more tactical approach. He is not yet sure which tactic works for him, because the day he ran his personal best time he was racing from the front. He states that “perhaps it is best not to overthink a race and take each race as it comes. When racing in Europe, it does not help to try and run from the front as usually there is a peacemaker for the first 400m. Leaving it too late banking on your ‘kick’ is also a mistake. These days, every 800m athlete can accelerate over the last 150m of the race”.

The Tuks athlete has completed his degree in marketing, but for now, he has opted to rather coach at Hoerskool Garsfontein, east of Pretoria. This is what he is passionate about and is following as a career. “Highschool coaches tend to push their athletes often too hard as if it is all about winning medals.” He cannot entirely agree with this approach. For him, it will always be about the ‘bigger picture’. He tries to inspire younger athletes to be in love with the sport. If he can succeed, it will hopefully mean that they will still compete at a senior level”.

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