Twelve pupils from Buffalo City, selected to compete at the 2022 UIPM Biathle/ Triathle World Championships in Portugal, were honoured and given sponsored goodie bags at a ceremony at Selborne Primary recently.
The championships, being held from October 25-30, require the athletes to run-swim-run or run-swim-shoot in as fast a time as they can.
The 12 pupils are among 91 other South African athletes who are competing at the championships.
Two of the pupils from Buffalo City, Luke Tinhoff and Adam de Lange, will compete in both the biathle and triathle events.
Biathle is an expensive sport and is often not recognised by schools so parents have to provide the funding.
To assist, the Buffalo City Biathle Committee provided the young athletes with goodie bags on October 19, sponsored by The Daily Dispatch, Deep Heat, Mita Pema Keshaw Optometrists and S3 Elite Sports Products.
One of the sponsors, Mita Keshaw, said: “The kit handover is always a special occasion for athletes, parents and coaches as it is a time to reflect on all the hard work and dedication throughout the season, while celebrating the athletes’ achievements.”
Luke, a seasoned triathle and biathle athlete, said: “I am very excited to attend my fourth world champs. I feel honoured to represent my country and would like to thank my parents and my coach, Sammy Saunders, for all the support over the years.”
Local athlete Rodney Westgate, who has represented SA at the world championships six times, winning at three, said: “The chance to represent SA is always a great honour and privilege, even more so at a young age.
“When I was their age I’m not sure I would have shown the same dedication and extra hours while others are relaxing at home or enjoying time with friends.
“This also shows the quality of athletes we have in the Border area and is a huge boost for the province as many will place well on the world stage.
“It’s a great pity sponsorship is non-existent for the team. Monies are reserved for a select group of sports and athletes. These young talents need to be nurtured, they are the future of our sport and great ambassadors for our country.”
His sentiments were echoed by parents who were dissatisfied with BCM acting deputy mayor Princess Faku’s decision to fund only one of the pupils.
The GO! & Express was unable to get comment from the deputy mayor, but BCM spokesperson Samkelo Ngwenya said: “We need to keep an eye on the human triumphant picture here and that is that this family raised over R100,000 and were just short of R24k when they approached us. They are the only ones that approached the municipality.
“Our society is obsessed with finding fault that even a 10-year-old is subjected to scrutiny for taking initiative.”