Leander Pholman had the heart of a champion at age 12

HOPEFIELD:- Thoughts from his grandfather, George April:

I remember back in 2019, when Leander was 12 years old – and still a learner at Langebaan Road Primary School – how he participated in the West Coast Schools Athletics Competition…

It was the first time that I – as his grandfather – had the opportunity to see him in action. Naturally, as a freelance reporter I was excited. I remember that day like yesterday, because (of course…) my grandson wanted to impress his grandfather.

To him, the time wasn’t important – he just wanted to win. I could see it on his face.

First he competed in the 200m and 800m races, and won, and then he had to competed in the 1200m race.

By the time he had to compete in the 1200m race, he seemed tired. Not to mention that the boys he had to compete against seemed notably taller than he was at the time. I was a bit worried – but at least he already won two races for the day, which in itself was no mean feat.

But it was the 1200m race that worried me, having already won the 200m race convincingly …

But again, Leander pulled out all the stops, and gave everything. I wasn’t sure that it would be enough, but I was already so proud of him that it didn’t matter to me whether he would win or lose.

But it mattered to him, because his grandpa was at the finishing straight with a camera.

For most of the race, he was hanging back in third place,and sometimes in second. But as they came closer to the finish line, he found the strength somewhere deep inside, and moved into first place.

And he won.

I didn’t know he had it in him – not after the first two races. But his strength at the finish line surprised me (and his opponents).

Fair enough, he did not win by as much of a margin as he did in the first two races – but he won. He didn’t lead comfortably during the race either – as he did in the other two races.

And on that day I realised:

Grandpa’s child is a born champion.  I couldn’t be a more proud (or a happier) granddad. But the biggest surprice for the day, was that he still have to compete in a 100m race…

Picture: – Wes Boland Athletics for Primary Schools
Here (Leander Pholman – right) wins his qualifying race in the 100m, having also won the 1200m earlier.

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