University of Johannesburg Olympics long jumper Lynique Prinsloo sent a message to young, aspiring athletes that “nothing is impossible” if you are prepared to work hard enough to make your dream come true.
The 25-year-old education student, who represented South Africa at the Rio Games this year, was named the UJ Sportswoman of the Year last week.
She said hard work over many years and a determination to achieve her goals had led to the journey to Brazil.
“The Olympics was one of my biggest dreams and I just kept working hard towards that,” said Prinsloo.
“They say if your dreams don’t scare you, they are not big enough. So I felt scared at times, but I just kept on believing and working hard, and now I can say I am an Olympian.”
The SA star said she owed much to her strong religious faith and UJ athletics coach Emmarie Fouche, adding that her selection for the Olympic Games was the result of a lifetime of commitment.
“Getting to the Olympics was literally due to the work I have put in throughout my athletics career.”
Having grown up in Springs, Prinsloo now stays in the UJ residence of Afslaan on the Auckland Park campus and has set her sights on leaping seven metres in the near future.
Her personal best is 6.81m set in Stellenbosch in 2013, while the women’s world record stands at 7.52m, set by Galina Chistyakova of the former Soviet Union in 1988.
“I do think I can jump seven metres, but there is a lot of work to be done till then,” she said. “It is a goal for me and coach Emmarie, who is the best in the business and a massive help.”
Prinsloo said the Olympic Games had taught her about the mental challenges of competing at an international level.
“I thought I was mentally prepared as I had some big competitions before the Games. But when the moment came it was all too overwhelming.
“We also did not know how my body would react to jetlag as this was my first time travelling across so many time zones.
“So I learnt a lot about how to adapt when the situation is not as good as expected.”
Reflecting on her award last week, she said she was surprised at being named the Sportswoman of the Year award.
“I am truly honoured. We work so hard as athletes to achieve success and it is great when your attempts are acknowledged.
“This sort of recognition motivates you to keep working hard.”