Seen here (far left): Benjamin Nyakudya, Boys U19 400m winner. Photo Credit: Kyle Cestari / Seen here (far right): South African 400m hurdler Wenda Nel with Precious Molepo who claimed gold in the Girls U15 400m in a deserving time of 0:53.93. Photo Credit: Backtrack Sports
The Bestmed TuksAthletics Stadium in Tshwane was buzzing with excitement on Saturday 29 February 2020 with track and field #FutureStars toeing the line ready to prove that their future is #ForeverFaster at the PUMA School of Speed #5, the 2020 season finale.
Headed by Usain Bolt, the PUMA School of Speed is a national series of five track and field meets that was launched in 2016 with the goal of identifying exceptional young South African athletes who believe that their future is #ForeverFaster. Catering for track and field stars between the ages of 14 – 19, the PUMA School of Speed Series features the following events: 100m, 200m, 400m, 800m, 1500m, Long Jump, High Jump, 100m Hurdles (Boys 15, Girls 17 & 19 only), 90m Hurdles (Girls 15 only) and 90m Hurdles (Girls 15 only) and 110m Hurdles (Boys 17 & 19 only).
Precious Molepo from Prestige College proved that she has what it takes to go #ForeverFaster with her exceptional achievement in the Girls U15 400m. Molepo claimed victory in a deserving time of 0:53.93. “I’ve taken part in this event many times, having started last year. I really like it. I bettered my time and am very happy. Hard work pays off.” Jenna Booysen came in second, while Julia van Aardt finished third.
Benjamin Nyakudya from Murehwa High School (Zimbabwe) was a force to be reckoned with in the Boys U19 400m. Nyakudya claimed gold in a deserving time of 0:48.14. “The PUMA School of Speed is amazing,” says a very happy Nyakudya. “I entered because I knew that I could improve my time. Coming first means a lot, but it also means that there is more room to improve. It’s the beginning of the season. By June I should reach 0:47 or 0:46.” Roy Machingura came in second, while Busani Ndlovu finished third.
Lene van Heerden from Randburg High School took top honors in the Girls U19 400m in a time of 0:55.96. “I love the PUMA School of Speed,” says van Heerden. “It’s a great opportunity to improve your times. Coming first means a lot to me. My advice to other athletes is to work hard. Hard work always pays off.” Charné Swart came in second, while Marzanne Loots finished third.
The Boys U19 200m was dominated by Ivan Danny Geldenhuys from Namibia. Studying at Akademia and running for TUKS, Geldenhuys claimed the top spot on the podium in a well-deserved time of 21.18. “The PUMA School of Speed is always a fun event to partake in. It’s the best event for me. It’s the best organized meet that I’ve been to. I entered today because it’s taking place on my home ground, it’s where I train. Coming first means a lot. My advice to other athletes is to train hard and keep your head up high. You will reap the rewards.” Zander von Stade came in second, while Joshua Black finished third.
No stranger to the PUMA School of Speed, Banele Shabangu from Prestige College has been going #ForeverFaster for the last three years. Not only did she come first in the Girls U19 200m on the day, but she also boasted a new PB with her time of 24.48. “The PUMA School of Speed is an awesome meeting that gives athletes a lot of opportunities,” says Shabangu. “I got a new PB today, from a 24.5. to 24.48. Coming first means a lot. I wasn’t expecting it since I was running with very fast people.” Jessica Bompas came in second, while Odette van Wyk finished third.
Currently planning to go overseas, Phatutshedzo Maswangani (originally from Soweto, but now living in Pretoria) showed the competition a clean pair of heels in the Boys U19 100m. Maswangani claimed victory in 10.42. “The PUMA School of Speed is a great meet. It has a good vibe and is a good experience at the end of the day. It’s my first race of the season and I came out happy. Coming fist sets the tone for the season for me because Nationals is in less than a month. It’s a good place to see where my base is and how far I can go.” Sifiso Miya came in second, while Phemelo Moje finished third.
The Girls U19 100m title was claimed by Antoinette van der Merwe from the University of Pretoria in an impressive time of 11.68. “The PUMA School of Speed is one of my favorite races and that’s the reason why I am back,” says van der Merwe. “There is always a nice vibe. The people that are running are really good, so it gives you a good idea of where you are in the season. Coming first means a lot because of the great competition.” Rose Xeyi came in second, while Jessica Bompas finished third.
“The PUMA School of Speed #5 was the source of nail-biting track and field action,” says PUMA Marketing Director Brett Bellinger. “#FutureStars came prepared, focused and ready to go #ForeverFaster. The results were impressive. We are proud to close off the 2020 season on such a high note and are excited to identify the five #FutureStars that will join the PUMA Squad for the duration of 2021. These names will be released shortly.”
In addition to representing the brand, the five PUMA #FutureStars will have access to PUMA’s elite running ambassadors who will be on hand ready to offer guidance on and off the track.
Live Entertainment: South African record producer, DJ and songwriter Sketchy Bongo joined in on the action in Tshwane with an exciting music line-up that included hit singles ‘Let You Know’, ‘Love Me In The Dark’ and ‘Cold Shoulder’.”
Vice Principal’s Message: Junior track and field stars were granted the opportunity to meet South African middle-distance runner and 2020 PUMA School of Speed Vice Principal, Gena Löfstrand in the Vice Principal’s office.
According to Löfstrand the PUMA School of Speed Series has been extremely important for South African athletics. “The Series brings together athletics fans, and future champions from all over our country,” says Löfstrand. “It gives athletes the opportunity to showcase their talent at a well-supported, world class event. It’s something for young athletes to set goals for and work hard towards. The atmosphere at the PUMA School of Speed is what makes it so special. It’s fun, exciting, and inspiring. It’s events like this that keep athletics alive! I’m proud to be working alongside PUMA to help grow athletics in South Africa.”
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