Welcome to our “Women’s Month edition of Team Talk. In my humble opinion we should not just celebrate women one month out of the year but rather every month. Especially in sports. We have had the absolute privilege of seeing some of the most amazing female athletes compete in all sporting codes, doing extraordinary things, defying all odds to take their place in history. These female athletes have not only won major competitions, medals and trophies but also won the hearts of many a sports fans, both male and female. A special shout out to South African athletes, Tatjana Schoenmaker, who won a gold and a silver medal for swimming at the recent Olympic games in Tokyo and also to Bianca Buitendag who took silver for short-board surfing. We are extremely proud of all our athletes that took part in the Olympics. You are all champs in our eyes here at Team Talk.
Another young, upcoming female athlete that I would like to celebrate this month is Saskia Wait. I had the honour of catching up with Saskia recently. A promising athlete who is just 19 years old and has a very bright future ahead of her. She is not just sharp on the athletics track but also academically. Again, in my humble opinion, you may not know her now but watch this space. What really stood out to me was the humility Saskia displays through her confidence. Read for yourself and enjoy.
Tell us about your early life, growing up and your family.
I was born in 2001 in Port Elizabeth. I’m an only child. I’ve always been a very inquisitive, busy and active child and my parents struggled at times to keep me busy enough to be quiet for a few minutes. In 2008, when I was 6, we moved to Durban due to my mom and dad changing jobs at the time. In 2012 we moved back to Port Elizabeth after the opportunity arose. My mom and dad have been very involved in sports since a young age. They made sure that I grabbed all the opportunities that came my way with both hands and they made them all possible.
When did you discover a love for sports? Has it always been athletics or did you play other sports too?
I’ve always had a huge love for sports. Because I was always busy and on the run, my parents allowed me to take part in many sports. Athletics has always been one of the sports I trained for, but not the only sport. I’ve done gymnastics, swimming, netball, cricket, road running, cross country and cycling as well. I also received my provincial colours in cycling in primary school. When I started high school, I decided to focus on athletics alone, to do and be the best that I could. I started training with Andrew Kock who has become a huge part of my life and a very important puzzle piece to help me reach my goals. I still do some road running and cross country in my off season from athletics, just to stay fit and active.
What life lessons has sport taught you?
The first and main lesson would be that nothing in life comes easy. I have had to put in a lot of work to reach my goals. I only started competing in athletics in 2015. I also set my goal in 2015, but only reached it in 2019. A lesson I’ve also learnt along the way is that you won’t be able to reach your goals without a support system. Also never give up, keep working hard and setting goals for yourself. Winning is not always everything; you learn more from a loss than a win.
At what levels have you competed?
I’ve competed at provincial and national level, and I hope to compete at an International level in years to come. I’ve been the Eastern Cape Double Gold champion in the 100m and 200m for five consecutive years, and for six years in total.
What have been your highs and lows in your career?
One of my highs was definitely be the SA Schools Championships in 2019 when five years of hard work and constant determination finally paid off when I took the gold in the 100m and the silver in the 200m.
I don’t have many lows, but if I had to point out some it would be my two main injuries — a collapsed bridge in my feet as well as my back injury, but even the lows turned into highs as I worked through them.
How did you come to accept Christ as your Lord and Saviour?
From a very early age I grew up in a very Christian home, so I’ve always accepted Him as my Lord. I went to Sunday school and church and I believe my Christianity grew stronger as I grew up and went through more in life. I also realised, when going through challenging times, that nothing is possible without Him and that I wouldn’t be where I am today without believing and putting my trust in Him.
Which other athlete motivates you the most and why?
Wenda Nel and Rikenette Steenkamp. They are both very determined and hardworking athletes and I’ve had the opportunity to listen to both their athletic and life stories when they shared at our annual ALL IN Conference. They have also faced many challenges but they never give up and they inspire and motivate so many young athletes.
What are your dreams and aspirations?
I would always want to be an inspiration and role model for any younger athletes competing in any sport. I want them to always follow their dreams and never give up, no matter what comes their way. I would love to travel with my athletics and compete at international level. I also want to finish my studies to become a chartered acountant to the best of my ability and to make everyone proud that has been supporting me all the way, on the track and in life.
What is your favourite verse and why?
-Philippians 4:13 — I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me
This verse tells me that no matter what happens, whether I win or lose. or whether I do well or badly in a test, He will strengthen me to pick my head up again and to keep on working hard.
What words of encouragement and or wisdom can you give other female athletes?
It might sound like a cliché but the motto which I live by every single day is to never give up. I believe each and every athlete and person is capable to much more than they will ever know and their hard work will pay off, even if it takes time. God’s timing is always perfect. Our path is already set out. We just need to put in the work and believe in ourselves.
We wish Saskia well in all her endeavours, on and off the field. Please feel free to leave a comment in the section below and we shall pass it on to Saskia. God bless friends, until next time and remember, every month is Women’s Month. Treat all women with utmost respect and care, it’s what REAL men do!
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