#TuksSportHighSchool: Athletics Foundation Trust - a major partner of TuksAtheltics Academy at TuksSport High School

Posted on February 11, 2021

Eight years ago, the Athletics Foundation Trust's (AFT) decision-makers set about creating a unique youth development programme to make a real difference in South Africa through education and athletics. Today, they are a major partner of TuksAtheltics Academy at TuksSport High School.

Hardly a year has passed since 2014 in which one or more of the Trust's sponsored athletes did not make media headlines. There have been World Champions, Olympians and record breakers.  If nothing unforeseen happens, at least three of the Trust's former athletes could line up for the upcoming Tokyo Olympic Games. There might even be a medal on the cards.

None of this would have been possible without the Trust's generous sponsorship. From day one, the vision has been to unearth talented young athletes, mostly from far-off rural areas all over the country, who would not otherwise have had an opportunity, and guide them to become leading athletes on and off the track. The Trust partnered with TuksSport High School to ensure that every sponsored athlete can access a solid high school education until the completion of their basic education.

"No sports career lasts forever. We want young athletes to realize that not everyone is going to become a professional athlete, so education is viewed as equally important," said Rose Juby, AFT National Programme Manager.

From a pilot group of 24 athletes in 2014, numbers have increased every year, with 89 athletes completing matric.  This year, the Trust has awarded over 90 bursaries. 

As of today, TuksSport High School matriculants & TuksAtheltics Academy graduates are pursuing careers in American colleges and studying locally in various fields including medicine, teaching, computer science and law.

One of the most significant breakthroughs happened in 2016 when Clarence Munyai and Gift Leotlela got selected to compete at the Rio Olympic Games in Brazil. They became the youngest male track and field athletes to do so. At the time, they were 18-year-old and being the Trust sponsored learner-athletes at TuksSport High School.

Another highlight was Munyai setting the SA senior 200m-record in 2018 when he clocked 19.69s during the National Championships. This still ranks him 11th on the World Athletics all-time list.  In 2019, he was part of the SA 4x100m-relay team that set a new Africa and SA record at the World Championships in Doha running 37.65s in the heats. It is believed the team is paving its way to winning a medal in Tokyo.

Leotlela won a silver in the 200m during the World Under-20 Championships in the Bydgoszcz, Poland. In 2017, he set a SA Junior record running 10.12s over 100 metres.

Sokwakhana Zazini got everyone talking when he won gold in the 400m-hurdles during the 2017 World Under-18 Championships. A year later in Tampere, Finland, he won gold again at the World Under-20 Championships. In 2019, he won silver at the World Student Games in Napoli, Italy. Looking at what he has achieved, he can qualify for the 400m-hurdles final in Tokyo.

In 2019, Sinesipho Dambile competed in the IAAF World Relay Championships in Japan's 200m relay, where the SA team won silver.

On the other hand, from the girls’ side, Prudence Sekgodiso is considered to be one of the prospects of South African women's athletics. Last year, she won the 800 metres in 2:02.16. In prediction, she can become the fifth South African female athlete to dip under two minutes over 800 metres. Since 2016, she has improved her 800m time by more than eight seconds. There is a real chance of her qualifying for Tokyo.

Visit athleticsfoundationtrust.org, for more information about the Athletics Foundation Trust.

- Author Wilhelm De Swardt

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