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Back You are here: Home Sports Athletics Kwa Zulu Natal Athletics:Sensational Sonwabiso Skhosana
Friday, 23 November 2012 09:56

Athletics:Sensational Sonwabiso Skhosana

Written by  Byrce Foss

 Individual athletes are by their very definition, selfish entities. The most philanthropic of sporting icons will seem self-centered when they enter the proverbial gladiatorial arena.

 ss11Behaviour that would be perceived as arrogance in a team sport (or a general societal social setting) is not only commonplace, but is indeed seen as a psychological prerequisite for the lone competitor. Then comes Sonwabiso Skhosana; a burning flame in a sport that has, through one reason or another, progressively fizzled out. A figurehead in the calculated rejuvenation of this art form, he proves to be a refreshing diversion from the egocentric stereotype, in all manner and form.


Without feeling the need to puff out his chest or tell the world how good he is, Skhosana has quietly built up a reputation that has led to whispering interest on the other side of the planet. In 2011, whilst still only in grade ten, Skhosana was approached by scouts from the incomparably resourced American collegiate athletics scene, with a view of making the trip usually reserved for South African swimmers. Not only is the professionalism of the Americans something to envy, but their mantra of ‘student athlete, in that order’ speaks of an unwillingness to place the lopsided physical ambitions of young hopefuls above that of their academic needs. There is no such worry for the minders of Sonwabiso however; his discipline on the track running parallel with his exploits in the classroom (he is consistently amongst the top twenty percent of academic achievers in his grade).


Such jet setting opportunities are no doubt attractive to the young and ambitious, but should he choose to pursue his dream closer to home, tertiary institutions within our borders would more than suffice. The High Performance Centre at Pretoria University is utilized by some of the premier athletes on the planet, with Pukke (Potchefstroom) and Maties in Stellenbosch constantly improving. With many world-renowned sprinters calling Tuks home, it seems likely that this BCom Accounting aspirant will join their ranks; particularly when considering the performances that he’s displayed on their doorstep.      


Whilst representing the KZN Invitational team at the Menlo Park Prestige Meeting, Skhosana was awarded Top Athlete, Top Male Sprinter, Victor Ludorum, as well as setting tongues wagging by breaking the 200m record, held by former IAAF World Junior Championship silver medalist, Riaan Dempers. These impressive feats become jaw dropping when one considers that Sonwabiso is relatively raw in terms of athletic conditioning and experience.    


His mentor and Athletics coach at Glenwood, Mrs. Denise Labuschagne, recognizes the need to manage Sonwabiso carefully over the next five years. Once a domain of Herculean figures such as Carl Lewis and Michael Johnson; the phenom that is Usain Bolt has shown that Sonwabiso’s 72kg frame is consistent with a refreshing new direction in sprinting. Labuschagne has seen it all too often in this county: young athletes pushed far too soon with muscle structure given no opportunity to naturally develop; inevitably leading to an avoidable crash and burn. Whilst there remains a need for greater natural power to compete at an elite level; technological advances, experience and the startling impact of Bolt has led to a greater emphasis being placed on speed endurance and remaining injury free.


The goal is clearly to ensure a steady progression (Skhosana’s relatively unrefined physique has only been exposed to a gym strengthening program for the past year) and to manage expectation. That being said, Glenwood’s highly respected rugby fraternity has agreed to not make use of Sonwabiso’s considerable pace on the rugby field in order for him to concentrate on his chosen pursuit. With a long-term plan in place, the focus remains on constant improvements to technique with an eye on Junior World Championships’ and Commonwealth Games’.


Whilst his relatively late entry into the sport (at a competitive level) would be concerning in disciplines such as tennis or golf, history has shown that the 400m in particular is by no means an art form reserved for the adolescent. Typically, most peak between the ages of twenty-eight and thirty and the likes of Carl Lewis and Johnson were breaking world records well into their thirties.


For now, this proud Glenwood scholar need only concentrate on his penultimate year of schooling whilst playing a significant part in the revival of school athletics in the KZN region.

Despite the intense rivalry between the two schools, Labuschagne credits Gareth Brown of DHS for attempting the reverse the sad decline of the sport. Glenwood will joined DHS, Northwood, Westville, Michaelhouse, St Charles, Maritzburg College and Hilton for five old-fashioned athletics meets in the third term of this year. This provided Sonwabiso with the perfect opportunity to develop his 400m performance; a race which onlookers have dubbed his better event, but one which is notoriously taxing on the body. He ended up beating all comers.    


Next year will also be filled with the weighty expectations of the Athletics fraternity across the country. No longer viewed simply as a strong contender, Sonwabiso is now seen as the man to beat and how he deals with this pressure will go a long way in providing an indication of whether he holds the fortitude to progress to the international stage.


In a school and a nation that has an abundance of potentially professional sportsmen; it’s the small sacrifices that one makes that thrust him or her above the masses of pretenders. Michael Jordan used to spend the night before a game bouncing a basketball on every wooden panel of the court, to spot any imperfections or cracks when it hit the surface. Others have not seen fast food or carbonated drinks for over a decade.

This level of dedication is what sets certain men apart; the difference between a talent diluted over time and lofty dreams attained. With clear eyes and a full heart, nothing but fulfillment awaits Sonwabiso Skhosana.        




















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