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A bronze medal on a debut Universiade


O.R. Tambo Airport, Kempton Park – The Ceres, Western Cape, born Adriaan Wildschutt won a bronze medal in the men’s 10 000 metres final in a time of 29:36.39, at the Napoli2019 Universiade. The twenty-one strong race had its fair share of African representation with five athletes from the continent competing. South Africa was represented by Adriaan Wildschutt and Mokofane Kekana, the winner of the race in a time of 29:29.43, a mere 0.58 seconds ahead of Japan’s, Hiroki Abe, who finished in a time of 29:30.01.

The second year, International Business student at Coastal Carolina University – North Carolina, Wildschutt, began his athletics career in 2014 after going for a training session with his brother, Nadeel Wilschutt, in Ceres. The 5000 metres race was his main event at the time until he began competing in the 3000 metres and 10 000 metres events. Coming into the Napoli2019 Universiade, he had qualified for the 5000 metres and 10 000 metres races respectively, but was forced out of the 5000 metres in favour of athletes who ran faster times, due to there being too large a number of athletes in the event.

Adriaan’s move from South Africa (SA) to the United States of America (USA) in January 2018, came about as a result of his coach, Zola Budd, offering him a scholarship at the South Carolina based university. ‘’She’s an assistant coach at Coastal Carolina University, so, she was the one recruiting distance athletes from around the world. My very first coach was Luis Hardnek, in Ceres. He really brought us into the athletics world and there was progress. I really enjoyed his training; then after sometime we performed very well in Boland. I think that’s the way Zola came into contact with us, by looking at the results through Boland athletics because my brother and I were among the top athletes in the Boland, especially in cross-country’’, he said.

Adriaan Wildschutt’s resume at championships is nothing short of spectacular. His first year in America saw him compete in five National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) meets, finishing second in four of them behind his brother, Nadeel. He set personal bests in the Sun Belt 8k (24:06.60) on 27 October 2018 and the NCAA Southeast Regional 10k (30:31.70) on 9 November 2018. In the 2018 Outdoors, he competed in three events in four meets with three top ten finishes including two first-place finishes; 5000 metres in the Sun Belt Conference (SBC) championships at Texas State with a time of 14:52.62, and then the 3000 metres University of Southern Carolina (USC) Open with a personal best time and school record of 8.17.72. He also set two other personal bests in the 1 500 metres (3:54.38 – Mountaineer Open) and 5000 metres (14:34.52 – Raleigh Relays).

On speaking about the Napoli2019 Universiade he said, ‘’I was really chilled, I mean there was no pressure, even from my coach, Zola Budd, there was no pressure; she just sent me a message to tell me that enjoy yourself, it’s an opportunity that you didn’t have and now you have it so just enjoy the moment. And there was no pressure for me, even the night before the race, I slept really well unlike all the other events where I lay awake the entire night, but on this specific night before my ten thousand I slept very well. There was no pressure from my parents, my family, my friends; no stress. I went into the race with absolutely no expectations from anyone so that gave me the opportunity to do my best you know. The race; it was really humid and it was hot. I led for most of the race. I got a medal but I still felt that I could have done better, but this is my first time so I mean, for me to get a medal on this world stage you know; I don’t want to say that I’m impressed by myself because I know I can do so much better, but just for this, I’m really satisfied with my performance and how I grow as an athlete. Besides the NCAA finals, this is awesome; I’m really glad that South Africa gave me the opportunity to represent my country.’’

Adriaan’s immediate goal is to qualify for the 2020 African Championships which will be held in Algeria. The long-term goals are to compete at the 2021 Universiade in Beijing - China, the 2021 World Championships to be held in Eugene, Oregon - USA and the 2024 Olympic Games which will be held in Paris - France.





Posted by Vusi Zwane on 2019-07-23.
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