Leaps and bounds above the rest

Western Province high jumpers Breyton Poole and Kristi Snyman clinched gold in the boys and girls under-18 high jump in Green Point

Western Province high jumpers Kristi Snyman, from Durbanville, and Helderberg Harriers Athletics Club’s Breyton Poole, lived up to expectations, at the Athletics South Africa (ASA) youth and junior championships, at the Green Point track, at the weekend.

They won gold in the girls’ and boys’ under-18 high jump events. Kristi, 16, took first place with a height of 1.74m, followed by Athletics Gauteng North’s Michelle Ngozo and her best friend Fleur Slot from Boland who took third place.

Breyton, 17, was in a class of his own with a height of 2.15m while his nearest rivals could only make 1.95m. He started the competition at 1.95m when eight of his opponents had already been eliminated from the competition. He was immediately under pressure when he could not clear his first jump but bounced back in fine style.

The youngster, who has made the Western Cape schools’ team five times, said he was happy with his performance, especially with the strong winds in Cape Town on Friday.

“I felt rusty to start with after my starting height was at 1.95m. However, I told myself to relax and stick to the basics. Luckily, everything worked out well in the end,” he said.

Breyton has been in fine form throughout the season, making the qualifying standard for the world youth championships on a number of occasions.

It started back in February when he jumped 2.14 m at the Western Province League 1 meet, at the Parow athletics track. Last weekend, he jumped a personal best of 2.18m to win the gold medal, at the South African schools’ championships, in Durban.

With the team yet to be announced for the world youth champs, in Kenya, in July, Breyton stands a good chance for selection, since he is ranked number one in the world, in his age group. His closest rival would be Australia’s Sean Szalek who has jumped 2.13m this year.

Kristi, on the other hand, has not made the qualifying standard of 1.77m, but hopes to make it at ASA senior championships, in Potchefstroom, later this month.

“I was satisfied with my performance at the ASA youth champs but was hoping to jump a qualifying standard for world youth champs. However, the plan is to jump 1.77m at ASA senior champs and hopefully live my dream of representing my country at international level,” she said.

Last week, the youngster was close to making the qualifying standard when she jumped a personal best of 1.76m to become SA schools’ champion, at the national schools’ championships, in Durban.

“This season has been going really well for me as I have been consistent at all the competitions that I have taken part in. My fondest memory would have to be at the Boland championships where I won the gold medal with a height of 1.73m. It was the first time ever that I jumped that mark,” she said.

Kristi is a fan of Croatia’s Blanka Vlasic, who won silver at the 2012 London Olympics and bronze at last year’s Rio Olympics in the high jump event.

“She went through a number of injuries during her career but never gave up. I will also watch videos of her to see what I can improve on,” said Kristi, who was introduced to the sport by her father Rayno when she was in Grade 7.

“My father has made the biggest impact in my career,” she said.