MALMESBURY:- Despite setbacks and adversity, the athlete performed surprisingly well at the Swartland High school sports grounds in the Swartland town,  for her first race of the 2022 year

Picture above:- Here the two athletes, Leander Pholman (left) and Rywayden Willemse (with white cap) took the lead right at the start of the race.

But it was the duel of the Riebeeck West Special School athletes that drew the attention to them, when Rywayden Willemse finished ahead of Leander Pholman in a split second.  The two boys completed the six-kilometer race, for boys 17 years old, at a fast pace, in an unofficial time of 21 minutes and 6 seconds.  And both athletes told me after the race that they can do much better, but for now concentrate on their fitness and endurance ability.Abigail started her race with confidence, but the loose stones soon showed her who was in charge.

Diagonally behind Abigail, running Hercu Hofmeyer from Swartland Athletics Club  in Malmesbury.  Abigail is also running under the name of the club for ASA competitions.  According to the veteran who has completed many Comrades Marathons, he jogs a bit to motivate and guide the young athletes. Although Hercu ran almost the entire race alone, he finished 3 minutes after the two winning athletes. I’ll find out more about the veteran next time, because we unfortunately missed the time on Wednesday.


As happened in 2019, Abigail had to withdraw due to illness on the first day of an ASA competition, after she became ill with her tonsils.  This time it was a double setback, when her 19-year-old cousin died of illness in Swartland hospital in Malmesbury, a week later.   According to her mother, Jolene, it was a huge blow for Abigail, because the two teenagers grew up together.

Despite a lot of pain and sadness, the two former SA Cross Country champions bit hard and still got up and practiced regularly. On Wednesday, she decided to run barefoot because it is normal for athletes in cross-country running. She made the decision because many other athletes from her previous school,  also ran barefoot. However, the decision cost her dearly, because, according to her, “it went rough on the outfield, with loose pebbles that bruised her feet.”


I could also see that near the end of her race, she was really trying hard to do her best on mother earth to finish the race.  However, she held on and did surprisingly well in her 6km race, finishing in 31.06 seconds. With four qualifiers she still has to run to qualify, we are very positive that she will do better with every race that follow.   80% Rain is forecast for the west coast on Saturday,  with the athlete from Darling having to complete her second heats in Saldanha bay in the navy base field.  This time it will definitely be safer for her to tackle the new pastures with sneakers on.

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