2018 was the year that the University of Pretoria’s TuksSport teams lifted the standard of university sport to an entirely new level, winning four of the Varsity Sports competitions, in the process ensuring Tuks’s dominance as the overall champions for the second consecutive year.
However, Tuks’s sporting excellence was not just limited to dominating Varsity Sports competitions. Two athletes won gold medals at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, while Tuks was also victorious in seven USSA Tournaments. There were also two breakthrough moments in South African athletics.
There can be no arguing that 2018 was a celebration of fabulous sporting feats. Some of the highlights will be remembered for years to come, proving that the coaches, athletes and administrators at TuksSport are at the forefront of sporting excellence.
The driving force at TuksSport is proving that absolutely nothing is impossible in sport – if you are prepared to put your mind to a specific goal and work towards it.
Or as Toby Sutcliffe, Acting TuksSport Director, often explains: "Many wonder how TuksSport gets it right. The answer to that is quite simple: we leave no stone unturned when it comes to performance management in sport. We are conscious of the fact that talent is not enough unless it is driven by an unrelenting desire to be the best, which is supported by an uncompromising commitment to excellence in all aspects of your preparation and participation.”
The Tuks men’s hockey team and sevens side made sporting history by winning their respective Varsity Sports tournaments for the first time. TuksAthletics defended their title, while TuksCricket made amends by winning again.
When listening to coaches and players talk, Tuks’s success gets easier to understand.
Kruger van Wyk (TuksCricket Head Coach) ascribed his team’s success to self-belief – adding that what his players may lack in experience, they make up with a “Never say die” attitude.
“Nothing scares them, as they back themselves each time they take to the field. When they step onto the field, they will fight to the very last ball.
“There are players in the team who have the proverbial X-factor to swing the outcome of a game at any time. However, we never depend on a few individuals to win. We have 14 players in our squad, and they all have a role to play.”
Peabo Lembethe (TuksHockey Captain) said: “Nothing was left to chance. We started working harder during training, focusing on getting stronger and fitter in the gym. More importantly, over the past two years, Guy Elliott, our coach, kept reminding us that if we take care of the small stuff, the bigger picture will take care of itself.”
UP is one of only a few universities that are competitive in most sports. Last year TuksSport was truly competitive in eight of the nine major Varsity Sports tournaments, qualifying for the semi-finals or finals. TuksNetball lost in the final to Kovsies (University of the Free State) while both the Tuks men’s and women’s football teams lost out in the semi-finals.
The Tuks women’s hockey, chess, swimming, judo, netball, cricket and women’s sevens rugby were victorious in their respective USSA Tournaments.
Two definite highlights last year were Tatjana Schoenmaker winning two gold medals at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games and setting three Africa records in the breaststroke events.
Akani Simbine became the first South African sprinter to win a gold medal in the 100m at the Commonwealth Games.
Tuks sprinters Clarence Munyai and Carina Horn were responsible for breakthrough performances. Munyai set the international athletics community abuzz during the South African Senior Championships, when he ran a time of 19.69s in the 200m. This is among the ten fastest times ever recorded in the history of international athletics.
During the Diamond League Meeting in Doha, Carina Horn became the first South African female sprinter to dip under 11 seconds in the 100m, when she ran a time of 10.98s.