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South African Sprinter eyes Universiade Gold

WESTERN CAPE - South African male sprinters have made the top level of the podium their own over the past two Summer Universiades, and ahead of this year’s event in Taipei, rising star Tamzin Thomas is looking to continue that trend in the women’s event. In Kazan 2013, now Olympic finalist Anaso Jobodwana claimed gold for South Africa in both the 100m and 200m events, while two years later in Gwangju, now South African record-holder Akani Simbine sped to victory in the 100m event, matching his compatriot’s efforts in Russia.

Following the South African duo’s feats, Thomas – a first year Bachelor of Arts student at the University of the Western Cape – says she is inspired by both Jobodwana and Simbine, and is determined to continue the country’s success in the shorter sprinting events. "I definitely look up to them," Thomas tells FISU. "My goal is to be the first South African woman in a final of the 100m and 200m at the Universiade and from there anything can happen. It will be a great platform to show what I am capable of."

At 19, Thomas boasts a number of impressive achievements in her short career thus far, having won gold at the 100m African junior championships, making the South African world youth championship squad at the age of 15 and being included in the South African senior women’s 4x100m relay team in their continental championships event last year.

The dedicated athlete – who now trains six times a week – says sprinting initially started out as a fun activity with her twin sister at school.
"My twin sister Tamlyn and I always did athletics in primary school, just for fun," she explains. "I think the first time I actually realized I have a talent is when I made the Western Province athletics team when I was 13. Since then I never stopped. It became my passion."

Growing up in a family that struggles to make ends meet, Thomas says her motivation to succeed in the sport stems from her loved ones, who she hopes to provide for in future. "My motivation comes from my parents; to watch or hear my father wake every morning at 3am to go to work, and my mother getting up to work just to make things easy for us makes me drive harder each day at training to make life easy for them," she says.

"My motivation comes from people I love and people that support me and believe in me. Sometimes I get a random message from someone that says ‘you my role model’ – that just lights up my world and it makes me grind harder." Thomas has spent the last month training and racing in Europe, with only one goal in mind – Universiade success.

"I have been included in the squad for the World Student Games, and am using my European season as a build-up to the championships," she says. "I have been selected for 100m and 200m. My main goal is to do my best and to be in the final of both 100m and 200m. Running a best personal best will be a bonus. But yes, the major championship I am focusing on is definitely the World Student Games."

Thomas, who is currently ranked 151st in the world over 200m and 212th in the world over 100m, sped to gold in the 200-metre final at the EA Classic meeting in Velenje, Slovenia on 20 June – her first-ever race in Europe. She followed that up with silver in the 100m at an invitational meet in Austria two weeks later, before bagging gold in the 100m event at Celle Ligure, Italy on Thursday, 6 July.

Universiade sprinters have been warned.

Posted by Fabio De Dominicis, U-Media Reporter RSA on 11 Jul, 2017.
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