SA junior athletics coach Alroy Dixon, 30, was impressed by the way in which the South African junior track and field team performed at the African Union Sport Council (AUSC) Region 5 Youth Games, in Angola, in December.
They bagged 37 medals in total, including 22 gold, six silver and nine bronze medals. South Africa had an impressive Region 5 Youth Games, topping the overall medal standings with 125 medals including 63 gold, 33 silver and 29 bronze.
A few of the stand-out performances came from Athletics Gauteng North’s Marli Viljoen. The sprinter won the 200m in 25.48 seconds and formed part of the 4x100m and 4x400m relay quartets that took gold. In the 400m she came second in a time of 56.04 seconds.
Another stand-out was Viljoen’s provincial teammate, Athletics Gauteng North’s Malesela Senona who won the 100m and 200m to take the double. He also formed part of the 4x100m relay quartet that took the bronze medal in 42.05 seconds.
Dixon said he could not have asked for a better performance from his athletes.
“They had a good positive attitude and gave it their everything. The competition had a high standard and there was a great spirit throughout the championships.
“Our biggest competition in the sprints and middle-distance came from Botswana and Malawi,” he said.
Dixon, who is head of athletics and high performance manager at DF Malan High School, in Bellville, said picking up the experience at an international level will help his career.
“I would love to be part of the SA team again, should Athletics South Africa (ASA) select me. It was a good learning curve and also showed me how to interact with athletes on a international level,” said Dixon, who believes that if there are more opportunities for juniors to compete at an international level, it will make things so much easier at senior level.
“South Africa can compete against the best in the world but the more athletes we groom at a younger age the bigger the squad will be for competitions such as the Olympics and Commonwealth Games and their paths will be easier moving forward,” he said.
Dixon now has a taste of what it is like to coach at international level and will focus on the upcoming athletics season.
He is also a coach at Bellville Athletics Club. He hopes his athletes can repeat their great performances of last year as they get ready to rake in the medals.
One of the stand-out performances came from Parow’s Jayson Weber who won gold in the boys’ 100m, 200, and 400m at the ASA sub-youth championships, to be crowned the triple national champion.
Another top perfromer was Panorama’s Lene Duncan who won gold in the girls’ under-18 long jump with a distance of 5.62m at the South African high school’s championships and came second at the ASA youth championships with a distance of 5.3m.
Dixon believes the two have the ability to qualify for the world youth championships, in Nairobi, Kenya, later this year.
“Their first goal would be to make the Western Province team, then qualify for the national champs and get into the first two positions.
“It is not going to be easy but we have goals that were set out at the end of last season and now it’s time for those plans to pay dividends,” he said.
Dixon said for the plan for the rest of his juniors and senior athletes is to improve on their times and qualify for major competitions such as the nationals and to do well at the ASA one-hour elite competition.