South African Race Walking has taken another step forward in becoming a powerhouse on the international race walking scene.
Earlier today, SASCOC announced a 137-strong team to represent South Africa at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro next month and of this massive contingent are four race walkers.
This is the biggest selection of race walkers to compete at the Olympics for South Africa in the history of the sport.
- Anel Oosthuizen – 20km Race Walking Specialist will be competing at her 1st ever Olympic Games
- Lebogang Shange – 20km Race Walking Specialist will be competing at his 1st ever Olympic Games
- Wayne Snyman – 20km Race Walking Specialist will be competing at his 1st ever Olympic Games
- Marc Mundell – 50km Race Walking Specialist will be competing at his 2nd Olympic Games
Anel started race walking at the age of 11 back in 2006. 11 years later and she is still walking…and walking faster than ever!
Her beginnings were as a middle distance athlete running 1200m, adopted an unusual running style which later lead to her first coach noticing that she would be perfect for race walking. She then entered her first race walking race of 3km at the Inter-provincial Race walking Championships in Oudtshoorn…which she ended up winning.
The race walking bug bit and the journey started!
In 2013, Anel changed coaches and started working with the internationally recognized race walking coach, Carl Meyer, who had coached Nicolene Cronje-Badenhorst to the 2004 Olympic Games for the very same 20km race walking event!
Carl Meyer, a race walker himself has managed to extend his wealth of knowledge to the young race walker. Anel says “Since I started training with him, my times have improved immensely”.
Somehow the young athlete finds a balance between race walking and studying. The balance is important to her, and realizes the importance of a good education outside of athletics.
Currently, Anel averages around 15hours / 100km+ a week. This is providing a great base for this year’s possible qualification for the Olympic Games in Rio. Anel went on to say:” I think many athletes have the ‘big Olympic dream’ and once they achieve that they don’t know what to do, because they’ve only been focused on that dream. I’m still young so I will be aiming towards the next Olympic Games in 2020. But the main goal is definitely to stay focused and just enjoy what I do for as long as I possibly can.”
When asked whether she has any advice for young aspiring race walkers she said “I think the most important thing I can say to any young race walker and athlete is to work hard, day in and day out to achieve your goals. Focus on your training and you will reap the rewards, but most important: ENJOY what you do.”
Anel is an Adidas fan, crazy about sushi and looks up to the current 50km Race Walking World Champion, Matej Toth, who she has had the privilege to train with over the past 3 years. Anel’s next race is in Slovakia on 19 March 2016 where she will be racing over 20km.
Anel was Awarded Academic Student Athlete of the Year by the University of Johannesburg in 2015.