All Systems Go for New Relay Challenge

(Durban: September 17, 2014) It’s all systems go for the brand new Comrades KZNA Relay Challenge, an exciting sprinting competition for high schools across KwaZulu-Natal.

The Relay Challenge, started in 2013 by KZN Athletics and the Fast Feet Athletics Club, is now bigger, better and includes sponsorship from the Comrades Marathon Association and sportswear brand Adidas. The competition kicks off with the semi-finals on September 26 and the finals on October 2 at the Kings Park Athletics Stadium.

The winning schools and age group teams will compete for R50,000 in prize money, R70,000 in equipment from Adidas and a bronzed spike trophy. Among the high schools that have already signed up are Glenwood, New Forest, Danville Park Girls, Kingsway, Maris Stella, St Mary’s DSG, Sukuma Comprehensive and Pietermaritzburg Girls.

The Comrades KZNA Relay Challenge is a team event that encompasses a 1x800m, 1x400m, 2x200m and 4x100m with eight athletes per team in three age categories – Sub-Youth, Youth and Junior.  Four districts have been invited from across the province with a total of 20 teams per age group in male and female categories – that is 40 teams per age group and 120 teams in total.

“We know that it is vital to continue to identify talent if we are to produce world class athletes in KwaZulu-Natal on a consistent basis. The Relay Challenge was born to provide track athletes with an opportunity to showcase their skills. In addition it also aims to reignite interest in athletics and identify talent at a district level,” said KZNA president Sello Mokoena.

“We’re quite positive that we’ll unearth some raw talent that we can nurture to reach their true potential. We believe that in partnering the Comrades Marathon Association and Adidas we can grow this event from strength to strength.”

Comrades Marathon Association Chairman Macdonald Chitja said the Relay Challenge was a real opportunity to get youngsters involved in athletics. “We see it as a platform to develop athletic skill and create an enabling competitive environment where these youngsters can race against their peers. It’s an opportunity to instil a lifelong passion for the sport and, who knows, we may even see some of these athletes at the Olympics Games one day.”

AmaZulu FC introduces life skills training for its first team

(DURBAN: September 15, 2014) PSL club AmaZulu FC has appointed Newton Sports Agency to develop and facilitate a 10 phase life skills programme for its first team.

The project will be managed by Head of Athlete Development at Newton Sports Dr Kirsten Van Heerden, who will work with a group of 35 senior players on a number of life skills topics over the months of September and October. The life skills program aims to help the players both on and off the soccer field by giving them the tools to deal with life as a both a soccer player and a person.

“Following a comprehensive brief from club management we have developed a working model that is tailored to the needs of the modern football professional. We understand that while the performance on the field is what counts, players can only reach their true potential if they can manage their lifestyles outside of football too,” said Van Heerden.

AmaZulu General Manager Peter O’Conner said the club was determined to achieve a holistic environment where players could thrive both personally and professionally.

“We are a club that wants to remain competitive and grow; to do this we need to create the ideal environment for players to achieve their goals both in soccer and life. We know that football careers can be unpredictable and retirement can come sooner than players think.   We therefore want to make sure our players get the most out of their careers and are left better off for having played for AmaZulu,” said O’Connor.

“One often hears of players who battle to manage their lives apart from soccer and this can certainly impact on performance on the field. At AmaZulu we want to change that culture and this programme is a first step in that process of holistic empowerment.”

Newton Sports run athlete development programmes for a number of professional sports organisations and individual athletes.

New Relay Challenge gives young sprinters a chance to shine

The Comrades Marathon Association (CMA) and KwaZulu-Natal Athletics (KZNA) are proud to announce the launch of the Comrades KZNA Relay Challenge, an exciting new event that will give the brightest young athletes in the province the chance to showcase their talent.

The Relay Challenge was started in 2013 by KZNA and the Fast Feet Athletics Club and is now bigger, better and includes sponsorship from the CMA and sportswear brand Adidas. The winning schools and age group teams will compete for R50,000 in cash and R70,000 in equipment from Adidas and a bronzed spike trophy for winning schools.

The Relay Challenge is a team based event that encompasses a 1x800m, 1x400m, 2x200m and 4x100m with eight athletes per team in three age categories — u15, u17 and Open boys and girls. Four districts have been invited from across the province with 16 teams per age group in the male and female categories – that is 32 teams per age group and 96 teams in total.

“We know that it is vital to continue to identify talent if we are to produce world class athletes in KwaZulu-Natal on a consistent basis. The Relay Challenge was born to provide track athletes with an opportunity to showcase their skills. In addition it also aims to re-ignite interest in athletics and identify talent at a district level,” says KZNA President, Sello Mokoena.

“We’re quite positive that we’ll unearth some raw talent that we can nurture to reach their true potential. We believe that in partnering the Comrades Marathon Association and Adidas we can grow this event from strength to strength.”

The event takes place with semi-finals on 26 September and the finals on 2 October 2014 at the Kings Park Athletics Stadium.

CMA Chairman, Macdonald Chitja says, “The Relay Challenge is a real opportunity to get youngsters involved in athletics. We see it as a platform to develop athletic skill and create an enabling competitive environment where these youngsters can race against their peers. It’s an opportunity to instil a lifelong passion for the sport and who knows; we may even see some of these athletes at the Olympics Games one day.”

Statement issued by the Comrades Marathon Association on 5 September 2014.
For an interview, please contact:
• CMA General Manager, Chris Bruwer on 082 318 7033
• KwaZulu Natal Athletics President, Sello Mokoena on 081 032 2757
• Newton Sports Agency, Trevor Neethling on 084 242 8668

Bridgitte Hartley honoured for contribution to sport in SA

(Durban: 29 August 2014) Olympic hero Bridgitte Hartley says she is humbled and extremely proud at having been recognized for the role she has played in developing women’s sport.

The first South African sprint canoeist to win a medal at the Olympic Games, Hartley was among 50 South African sports women honoured at a gala dinner held at the Sandton Convention Centre on August 28.

Minister of Sports and Recreation, Fikile Mbalula said the aim of the ceremony was to recognize the immense role and contribution made by women in sport during apartheid and in the 20 years since democracy.

“This really was a spectacular event surrounded by some of the most amazing woman I’m honoured to receive an award alongside all of them,” Hartley said.

Hartley who finished just 1,720 seconds behind the winner of the 2014 ICF Canoe Sprint World Cup in Milan continues travelling the world in preparation for the2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. After a mixed start to her international race season Bridgette is fully focused on bring back a gold medal from the 2016 Olympics.

“My focus is on paddling and gym at the moment, I have been challenging myself a lot more, and trying to get certain speeds in certain sessions, and really trying to push myself to the limit the whole time, so it has been quite tough, but I have also been seeing a dietician a lot more regularly now, she said.

Hartley’s coach Craig Mustard said her success had given more exposure to the sport. “Bridgette’s achievements at the Olympics have opened everyone else’s eyes to canoe sprinting. Now you people they know there is another discipline out there,” he said.

SOUTH AFRICA TO STAGE FIRST EVER GLOBAL ATHLETICS CONFERENCE

(Durban: 3 September 2014) KwaZulu-Natal Athletics today announced that it will stage a world first annual international athletics conference to upskill and equip athletics stakeholders as South Africa contemplates bidding for mega global events such as the Commonwealth and Olympic games.

The Global Athletics Conference (@GAC_2014), which will be an annual event, takes place on 14 and 15 November and will bring some of the foremost athletics and sports business professionals to Durban to engage with delegates from across Africa.

Among the key note speakers secured are four-time Olympic medallist Mr Ato Boldon; double Olympic Gold medallist Dame Kelly Holmes; Award-winning American running commentator Mr Toni Reavis; Marketing Director of Adidas International Mr Spencer Nel, Chairman of Repucom Mr Kelvin Watt and Head of Sponsorship at SABMiller, Mr Errol Madlala. Additional speakers and panellists will be announced in the run-up to the event, which will be held at the Sibaya Conference Centre outside Umhlanga, Durban.

Boldon, who will facilitate discussions at Global Athletic Conference 2014, said it was the ideal time for South Africa to stage such a relevant initiative if it wanted to ensure greater success on the international athletics stage.

“Modern athletics has evolved dramatically and there is a need for ongoing skills transfer and upskilling,” said Boldon. “This conference will benefit all stakeholder in the sport, from event organisers to high performance institutions. Increasing capacity and knowledge will lead to more competitive events and give South Africa a good platform to compete at and host premier international events such as Commonwealth Games, Diamond League and even the Olympic Games in future.”

The GAC 2014 will be a first for the athletics fraternity with its goal to educate and empower administrators, coaches and event organisers across the continent to improve the standard of both domestic athletics events and athlete performances to ensure success on the international athletics stage, thereby improving corporate sector confidence in the sport of athletics

Among the topics the esteemed panel will cover includes how to create sporting properties that are internationally recognised; building an
event brand; securing commercial partners; maintaining and increasing women’s participation in athletics and the need for high performance in building world class events.

KwaZulu-Natal Athletics President Sello Mokoena said the aim of the conference was to create a dynamic forum for cutting edge discussion, analysis and action. “We at KZN Athletics realised that in order to keep up with the top performing Olympic countries we need to expose the athletic community to the latest trends and thinking. Therefore we have assembled some of the brightest minds to speak to local administrators and officials. By touching the lives of these individuals we believe we will be creating the next generation of Olympic heroes and world class events on African soil,” said Mr Mokoena.

He said there was a need to develop the business of athletics in South Africa as well as ensure that the country stayed on the cusp of world class performances. “To create an internationally recognised and prestigious athletics conference based in South Africa we want to raise the profile of South Africa as an international athletics destination; and give locals stakeholders the tools with which to stage world class and financially sustainable events. “

To find out more visit #GAC2014 on www.globalathleticsconference.com or on www.facebook.com/GlobalAthleticsConference and twitter @GAC­_2014.