Aneesah Haupt, 19, a second year sports fitness student at Northlink College’s Tygerberg campus was in fine form at the ASA national junior championships, finishing just outside the medal standings in the 200m and making it to the semi-finals in the 100m, in Germiston, in Johannesburg, last weekend.
The competition featured top junior athletes from around the country. The Bonteheuwel resident was able to make up for that disappointment when she set a new personal record of 12.72 in the 100m, beating her previous best of 12.79, which she set at the Western Province League Two Meet, at the Parow track earlier this year. That, however, was not enough to take the final of that event.
This has been one of the youngster’s best seasons, as she has also been able to break her 200m best when she ran 25.89 at the WP Senior and Masters championship finishing third, at the same venue, earlier this season.
Haupt improved her previous best by 0.80 seconds. She believes that was by far her biggest achievement. With that, she is convinced this will go down as a season to remember.
“This was due to the fact that I just moved up into an older age group but, at the end, something good came from it, as I was able to improve my times.
“Now I know what to expect next year. The older athletes are also pushing me to run better times. With this being my first ASA junior champs, I was satisfied with where I ended up, because I did my best. Just to reach the final of a national competition is alone an achievement,” she said.
The youngster, who joined Bell-ville Athletics Club three years ago, believes credit should go to her coach Alroy Dixon for improving her times by three seconds and a second faster in the 200m and 100m respectively.
“I had low self-confidence when I first came to the club but my coach changed all of that by motivating me, giving me constructive criticism when needed and supporting me through everything. I have become more optimistic and my self confidence is at the point where I believe that I can do anything I put my mind to, but most importantly, my times have become better.
“I’m running times I never thought I was capable of running,” said Haupt.
She said her parents, Reza and Faldielah, have played an important role in helping her being where she is today.
“They have been with me every step or every stride of the way, watching every competition I take part in. They are always proud no matter where I finish,” she said.
Haupt was a late starter to athletics as she only started in Grade 9 at Harold Cressy High School in Cape Town and from there on she never looked back.
“It started at an inter-house competition at school and that was when I fell in love with the sport,” she said.
In 2012 Haupt was the Girls’ under-18 400m Table Bay zone champion and came second in the 100m and 200m. The following year she came second in the 200m and 400m and third in the 100m at the same competition.
The speedster says sport runs in her veins as her mother was a former WP sprinter and netball player.
Her father was part of the South African indoor cricket side that took part in the Masters World Series Championships in Christchurch, New Zealand, in 2003, while her brother Ightishaam represented WP and Boland at numerous inter-provincial tournaments in cricket. She is inspired by American sprint sensation, Allyson Felix, who is the current 400m world champion and 200m Olympic champion.
“She started her athletics career late, just like I have, so I see it as if she can do it, I can too. I admire her humility, and the fact that she’s down to earth. But most importantly, we do the same events,” she said.