Posted on April 21, 2022
On Thursday, 21 April, the 17-year old, Bradley Nkoana, became the youngest sprinter to win a medal in the men’s senior 100m at the ASA Senior Track & Field National Champs.
Akani Simbine, won, clocking 10.31s in Cape Town. Nkoana was second in 10.34s and Neo Mosebi third in the same time. If Nkoana "dipped" earlier on the line, the result could have been different.
The TuksSport High School learner-athlete is not one to speculate on what might have been. For now, he is happy with the result. He raced, pushed the boundaries and got a medal. To do so, competing for the first time ever at a senior championship will always be memorable, especially after being sidelined for nearly two years.
He is slightly self-conscious about how his first-ever senior 100m-final played out in those last hundredths of a second.
"I made the mistake of looking to my left to see what is happening. When I saw Akani next to me, I got too excited and lost focus."
According to the Tuks athlete, he has always been inspired by the likes of Simbine and Henricho Bruintjies.
"I must admit I was 'soft' before the final, but then Paul Gorries (coach) calmed me down, saying I got nothing to lose. It made me realise whatever Akani and Henricho achieved in the past does not matter. They are human, and we are racing. What mattered was that I should run to the best of my abilities and as an equal."
Nkoana had reason to be frustrated. Before this season, the last time he raced was in March 2020 during the Gauteng North Championships. Shortly after that, the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown was announced. Last year, he was sidelined due to a hamstring injury and a fractured heel.
"I started to doubt my abilities. My grandmother got me to think like a champion again when she told me she believed in me. She advised me to never give up no matter what happened. Adding that I should run to make my mother proud because she is 'watching' and smiles every time I run a good race."
"Her words changed everything. I was motivated again. From then on, everything mattered when I trained. . . technique, discipline, recovery."
Nkoana's mom died when he was 11. His dad, Freddy, is one of his biggest fans, trying to never miss a race.
"He is often the one who calms me down and helps me to be focused. Reminding me why I do what I do and for whom I am doing it. My uncles told me that my dad was no slouch in his younger days."
Running was not always the Nkoana’s passion. He used to be an avid footballer when in primary school in Winterveld.
"I played left-back. My job was to chase down the wings. Everything changed when one of my coaches told me that I was not a bad footballer, but I had the makings to be a great athlete. Shortly afterwards, I got scouted by Tuks."
Earlier this season, Nkoana won the under-18 title in the 100 and 200 metres during the South African Junior and Youth Championships in Potchefstroom. In February, he clocked 10.21s in the 100 metres. It is a personal best, but he believes he can be faster. On a perfect day, he expects to run 10.15s. The SA under-18 record is 10.20s.
Athletics Foundation Trust - a major partner of TuksAtheltics Academy at TuksSport High School | Visit athleticsfoundationtrust.org, for more information about the Athletics Foundation Trust
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