SA teen hurdles to gold at Youth Olympics

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IOL Gezelle Magerman-flag done SASPA G�zelle Magerman won the countrys first medal when she took gold in the 400m hurdles at the Youth Olympics in Nanjing, China. Photo: Wessel Oosthuizen

Cape Town - Golden girl Gézelle Magerman was too excited to sleep after winning South Africa’s first medal at the Youth Olympic Games in China, and described her victory as the best moment of her life.

Gézelle, 17, won the girl’s 400m hurdles final on Monday, setting a South African youth record in the process.

Her mother, Janine Filander, said from the family’s home in Vredenburg on Tuesday: “I’ve never received so many phone calls in my life. We are so excited.”

Filander said her husband, Jan, had taken the day off work on Monday to watch the final with her and their children Courteney and Corné.

“We were screaming, crying and laughing.”

She had not yet spoken to her daughter but in a Whatsapp message on Monday night Gézelle told her she so excited she was unable to sleep.

“She said ‘I’m too scared I’ll lose my medal’,” Filander said.

In an interview with www.sascoc., Gézelle said: “This was definitely one for the team. Coach Chris (White) just told me to go out and have fun, but I was very aware of the fact that this would be our first medal, which makes it even more special.”

Filander, whose husband works as a technician at a telecommunications company, said her daughter did not have a sponsor and the family had held a dance, braais and other events to raise money for her for competitions. She won gold in the same event at the African Youth Games in Botswana earlier this year.

“She has the talent, so we have to do everything to support her.”

She described her daughter as a fighter. “She was competing in an under-8 race when she lost to another girl. She went over to the girl, congratulated her and said: ‘I’ll beat you in the next race’, and she did.”

Filander said that Gézelle, who has also played provincial netball, had to take the difficult decision to give up netball and focus on athletics. Her choice had paid off and she said one of her daughter’s goals was to represent South Africa at the Olympic Games.

Amanda Lochner, principal of La Rochelle Girls’ High in Paarl, where Gézelle is in Grade 11, said the teenager had big-match temperament and the school was proud of her.

“She is a beautiful child. She has been exposed to so many big things over the past few months, but she just fits right in and remains humble,” Lochner said.

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Cape Argus

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