Keeping an eye on the finish line

Promising decathlete, Mikhail Manasse, from Hanover Park,works on his starts during his own lockdown training session.

Like most people on the planet, promising athlete Mikhail Manasse, 18, from Hanover Park has resorted to spending more time online since the Covid-19 period in just over a month ago.

But unlike many of his peers, he’s not just playing games and chatting to friends – there’s plenty of time for that and all the other cool thing teenagers do, he said.

The youngster, a member of the Vygieskraal-based Ultra Athletics Club and part of a set of twins, has also been following his coach’s online training programme and maintaining a fitness schedule as best as he can under the circumstances.

As an athlete who favours the sprints and triple jump events, working out in the backyard is a bit tricky but this has not stopped him from keeping in shape.

Recording himself training or practising his starts and sharing it on social media, allows him and others to keep tabs on his some of the technical aspects needed to excel on the track.

He said growing up, he liked soccer and that his twin sister, Micaela was more into athletics.

“Goalkeeping was really my thing but I always loved running, he said.

Mikhail, who matriculated from Alexander Sinton High School at the end of last year, said he only started athletics at the end of Grade 11. He said he was in for a really big surprise when appointed captain of the school’s athletics squad in his final year.

“I joined Ultra Athletics in September last year and my coach Waleed Donough introduced me to the decathlon.

Although new to this event, which includes various disciplines including shot put, discus, hurdles the 400m race and pole vaulting, Mikhail impressed at various athletics meetings this year.

“We quickly discovered that he has the ability to do many disciplines in track and field,” said Donough.

“We initially discovered this when we entered him into the decathlon competition in November last year to ascertain which event would suite him best.

“He took to it like a natural. He went from running a good 100m to leap even better in the long jump and soar even higher in the high jump.

“He was willing to do everything we suggested and hence becoming a great decathlete is on the cards for this young man. Definitely someone to look out for in the future.

“Since he started he has managed to leap 6.50m in the long jump and 1.75m in the high jump considering he never did high jump at school, as well as running a low 11-second 100m.

“Unfortunately, he did not compete at the provincial championships this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic causing postponements and cancellations, however, we were confident that he would have raked in a medal, Donough said.

“The last major competition I took part in was the Western Province junior championships, at Parow Stadium, earlier this year, where I just missed out on qualifying for the national championships.

“Then the lockdown came which put an end to everything, including athletics, said Mikhail.

“But that didn’t stop me from training because I still have some plans for this year and the future,” he said.