#TuksAthletics: Jovan van Vuuren aims to make the best of every opportunity in 2023

Posted on January 28, 2023

The UP-Tuks Sportsman of the Year 2022, Jovan van Vuuren, says he has kept things simple regarding his new year's resolutions as a long jumper.

"Every time I line up, it will be like it is the last time I compete. I am not going to take anything for granted. A lot is at stake with the World Athletics Championships and next year's Paris Olympic Games. 

"They upped the qualification standards from last year. To compete at 'Worlds', I need to jump 8.25 metres. The qualifying distance for the Olympics is 8.27 metres," explains Van Vuuren, whose personal best is 8.16 metres. 

If the Tuks masters student can have his way, he will want to qualify as quickly as possible. 

"If I do, it will be a weight off my shoulders. Consistency is going to be essential. The challenge would be to try and average 8.16 metres. It will be the perfect 'platform' to go big. 

Since 2018, Van Vuuren has improved his best performance by 61 centimetres-7.55 metres to 8.16 metres. It is no surprise that he did so when listening to him talk about long jumping. Jumping is his passion.

"To me, perfection is that chase to an ever-elusive goal. The thing is that you can never give up. You got to keep on going for it. It means striving to be better today than you were yesterday. That is, how records get set.

"My coach, Neil van Vuuren, and I decided it was time to change my technique. My approach to takeoff is now a ten-step pace and not nine anymore. I am not also not doing the hang technique anymore. We concluded that I had reached a 'ceiling' and would never get close to 8.40 metres or further. 

"I have also upped the time I spend in the gym. On paper, I am in a perfect place. So I am excited to see what will happen when I start to compete," said the South African champion. 

In all probability, the Athletics Gauteng North Championships will be Van Vuuren's first competition. Apart from the South African Championships in Potchefstroom, he will also compete at the Continental Meetings and the one in Botswana.

"I have no choice anymore. I need to start to compete internationally. That is the only way I will be able to improve my world ranking," said Van Vuuren, currently ranked 17th in the long jump. 

- Author Wilhelm De Swardt

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