Yane van der Merwe dreams of a PB and medal at the Commonwealth Games

The qualifying process for the sports for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games is almost final, but there is a possibility that additional codes and athletes will still make it before the 29 June 2022 deadline.

Para-athlete Yane van der Merwe will be representing South Africa at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham. Picture: Facebook.

JOHANNESBURG - South Africa's team for the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England has been announced and Eyewitness News caught up with one of the athletes selected, Yane van der Merwe.

“I could not believe that is it me! After not having the season I was hoping for and losing motivation, that just showed me that there is a silver lining,” said Van der Merwe about hearing that she made the SA Team.

The Commonwealth Games will take place from 28 July to 8 August.

“I just want to go and enjoy it. The dream will be to get a PB [personal best] and a medal, but we will see,” said the 22-year-old University of Johannesburg student and athlete.

The Honours in Sports Science student said being selected as part of the team was a highlight in her career.

“I'm 22 years young with a lot of fighting spirit and willing to work for what I want. Definitely, being included in the South African team to compete in the Commonwealth Games is a career highlight. After just missing out on the 2020 Paralympic Games 2020, I am back with more fight.”

Athletes across over 16 sporting codes were named to represent Team SA, but this is not the final list.

The qualifying process for the sports for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games is almost final, but there is a possibility that additional codes and athletes will still make it before the 29 June 2022 deadline. Some sports are also still finalising their squads.

“As an athlete, you have to look back and just take it all in. You may not be proud of your performance at the moment, but use it as a stepping stone, a learning tool to improve for the future. This year has been a difficult one, starting on a high with a new personal best and as an honours student, putting in long hours academically and on the field, pushing through and seeing that hard work pays off is totally worth it,” said a motivated Van der Merwe.

The student-athlete made her first mark as a para-athlete at the age of 17 when she broke the Under-18 Javelin record at the SA Championships for the physically disabled at the Westbourne Oval in Port Elizabeth.

“I was born with a Club foot on the right. Meaning I have no movement of my ankle in my right leg. I am classified as F44, lower limb deficiency.”

“To us, Birmingham Commonwealth Games presents an opportunity for those athletes with Olympic ambitions to stake their claim for Paris 2024 and LA 2028,” said Chief Executive Officer of SASCOC, Nozipho Jafta.

In 2010 in Delhi, Chad Le Clos won gold at the Commonwealth Games and two years later, won gold at the 2012 London Olympics. In 2018, Tatjana Schoenmaker also announced her arrival on the big stage with gold at the Gold Coast’s Commonwealth Games, and then she went on to win gold and World Record at the Tokyo Olympics. Khotso Mokoena won Silver in Melbourne in 2006 and was the only medallist in Beijing in 2008.

“The Paralympic Games is the main goal, which athlete doesn't dream of competing on that big stage? I’m working hard for the 2024 games! I see myself at the 2024 Paralympic games. A few senior championships and another Commonwealth Games would be great,” said an enthusiastic Van der Merwe.

The sports codes heading to Birmingham are: Para Athletics, Beach Volleyball, Boxing, Cricket (Women), Cycling, Gymnastics, Hockey (Women), Judo, Lawn Bowls, Netball, Para Lawn Bowls, Swimming, Para-Swimming, Table Tennis, Wheelchair Basketball, Triathlon, Para-Triathlon, Rugby Sevens and Weightlifting.

The women’s cricket competition will be in the T20 format where Team SA will go in as medals prospects despite strong competition from Australia and England. In Rugby Sevens, the men won the gold medal at Glasgow 2014 and will be looking for a repeat performance in Birmingham.

The youngster from Trichardt in Mpumalanga has competed at the World Para Athletic Junior Championships in Switzerland, placing third in Javelin U20, and the IWAS 2017 competition in Portugal, where she placed first in Javelin, third in Shotput U18 and fourth in Discus in the Open Class category.

“I love sport and cannot sit still. Being very active I participated in everything. I end up loving field events the most! Only moving my focus to Discus end of 2019. I love every second of it. During competition season like I am in now, I gym three times a week and work on technique five times a week. Gym for about 1h30min and throw for around 1h30min.”

SA’S PARA ATHLETICS TEAM AT COMMONWEALTH GAMES

Men: Jaco Smit, Jonathan Ntutu, Charl du Toit, Ernst van Dyk

Women: Mandilene Hoffmann, Yane van der Merwe, Sheryl James

Coaches: Jason Sewanyana, Daniel Damon

Manager: Cornelia Swanepoel