Rogail Joseph in action .Picture: Facebook
Rogail Joseph in action .Picture: Facebook

Athlete with lightning-fast speed in dire need of new running shoes

By Yethu Dlamini Time of article published Apr 25, 2019

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Although her lightning-fast speed might have grabbed headlines in the sporting world, running sensation Rogail Joseph struggles to raise funds for her sporting needs.

Joseph, 19, made headlines when she won the U20 400m hurdles title at the South African Championships on April 6 in Stellenbosch, but still ­competes in the same pair of running shoes (spikes) she was given three years ago.

She also uses them for training.

Her plight was highlighted on social media by sports enthusiast and commentator Cheryl Roberts, who said Joseph’s parents were struggling to pay for her expenses.

Several social media users have pledged to support her.

In an interview with The Star this week, Joseph said her parents could only provide for basic needs at home.

“They help where they can. My coach and the University of the Western Cape Athletics Club also help where they can.

“I appreciate their support. But I would also appreciate if I could get someone to sponsor my athletics career,” she said.

Joseph’s coach of seven years, Rodney Booysen, said: “A fellow athlete gave her a pair of brand new spikes two weeks ago that she currently uses.

“With four siblings, her parents do not have the means to pay for doctors, physiotherapy sessions and supplements.

“We also have to figure out her diet as she does not have the means to buy proper food,” said Booysen.

He added that their biggest fear was the lack of funds needed to help Joseph reach her goal of becoming the first black 400m hurdles athlete to go to the Olympic Games.

“We can’t let the negative overpower Rogail’s God-given talent. She is looking for sponsorship because she is dedicated and hard-working,” said Booysen.

Athletics South Africa (ASA) president Aleck Skhosana said his organisation did not sponsor or manage athletes.

“Our responsibility is to select athletes from all the provinces and send them to international competitions.

“The club she is registered with is the one that is supposed to provide her with all the kit she needs and help her get sponsors,” said Skhosana.

Vuyo Mhaga, spokesperson for the Department of Sport and Recreation, said his office funded federations to take care of athletes.

“We have signed a memorandum of agreement with the Department of Basic Education to nurture talent, and we give some of the athletics ministerial bursaries to attend Sport Focus Schools,” said Mhaga.

Joseph, who is from Worcester, won last week’s 400m hurdles U20 event at the African Youth Junior Athletes Championships in Ivory Coast, where she competed in several races - 400m, 100m and 4x400m, and the 4x100m relay.

She will also be representing the country at the World Student Games in Napoli, Italy, in July.

These successes come on the back of an impressive 2018 that saw Joseph win silver in the South African Junior 400m event, and gold in the junior 100m event at the ASA National Championships.

Joseph, who currently holds four medals, was part of the South African team to go to the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) U20 World Championships in Finland last year. 

@yethudlamini

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