#TuksAthletics: Roberts excited to make a 110m-hurdles comeback

Posted on November 06, 2020

Is less better? The Tuks athlete, Rivaldo Roberts, will hopefully know by the end of April next year whether his decision to switch back to 110m-hurdles is the right one. 

While still at school, he was considered to be a 110m-hurdles champion in the making and with good reason. He was the national under-18 champion.  He had represented South Africa at the World Youth Championships and went on to win a bronze medal at the African Under-20 Championships. 

Everything, however, changed when he was convinced by coaches that he should switch to running the 400m-hurdles. In hindsight, it might be perceived to be a mistake. Roberts had his moments, but they were few and far between. He was slowly fading from the athletics scene. 2015 was the last time he was selected for any South African team.

It started to bother the Tuks hurdler. He was, after all, not training to become a mere also runner. Roberts realised he is not getting any younger. Next year he will be 25. 

At the beginning of the year, things got to a point where Roberts and his coach, Riana Raath, discussed the way forward.

The national Covid lockdown turned out to be a blessing in disguise.  It enabled Roberts to relearn what it takes to be fast over 110m-hurdles without being under any pressure. 

"Being back to basically sprinting is a relief. For the first time in nearly five years, it feels like there is a "fire" burning inside me. The hunger to represent South Africa is back. I can't wait to race the 110m-hurdles." 

What does it take to be a good 110m-hurdler?

"You need to have the speed and power of a sprinter, the flexibility of a gymnast and be aggressive. It is, however important, to control your aggression. If you let it get the better of you, it is going to slow you down."

According to Roberts, he does not think when he races. 

"To me, everything boils down to muscle memory. Doing what you have trained to perfection. Only one thing matters. That is getting in the quickest possible time from start to finish. Never once touching a hurdle."

Roberts said he has been mesmerised by athletics from when he can remember.

"Getting to watch the heroics of the legendary Usain Bolt and South Africa's Llewellyn Herbert on television has helped inspire me to have my own dreams of being fast."

- Author Wilhelm de Swardt
Published by Leonore Jordaan

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