Living Legend - Chris Harmse

  • 19 Time South African champ
  • South African and Commonwealth record holder
  • Previous African Record holder
  • He has broken the African record seven times, and holds the championship record for both the African Championships and All-Africa Games.
  • 6 x African Championships Gold medalist
  • 3 x All-Africa Games Gold medalist
  • 1 x All-Africa Games Silver medalist
  • 1 x African Championships Silver medalist

“Hammer throw is a very unnatural movement, it takes a lot of work and time to find out if you have the ability to throw a hammer, it can sometimes take 2 to 3 years to sort it out. People aren’t patient and they are not willing to put in the hard work. People always tell me how tough it is training for the 800m, but when you take Hammer throw seriously you should be able to endure the same pain”, this is what Chris Harmse had to say when asked why he thinks no one has come close to his SA record yet.

Harmse turns 41 at the end of this month and has had one of the most fruitful and illustrious careers of any South African athlete, coached by Basie Koen all these years. As long as he is in South Africa and in Africa and has the ability to continue he will! He has done all the throwing items over the years, besides from the hammer throw he has a shot put pb of 14.65m, discus pb of  58.53m and a javelin pb of 63m which he threw 21years ago. “Shot put and discus depends a lot on the upper body, whereas hammer throwers have to avoid the upper body as much as possible. I know top international hammer throwers who struggle to bench press 90kg, where top shot putters can bench press 220kg!”.

But by far the greatest distance of them all is his 80.63m on the hammer throw which he did in 2005 in Durban. The 2nd placer on the all time performances list in SA is Werner Smit at 73.91m, about 7m adrift! “In the beginning I just wanted to be the best in South Africa, but the Lord has blessed me with so much more. The day I threw 80m for the first time was very special to my because then I realized I had the ability to compete internationally. I have always really wanted a medal at a World Champs. I was in Helsinki in very good from but didn’t make the final, that was probably the most disappointing moment of my life”. Harmse loves anything that has to do with sport and has tried almost everything. He likes doing the Remax Longdrive golf competition and has represented South Africa with this.

We knew that quite a lot of thinking had to be done with the next two questions we asked Harmse, but it had to be done:

Who has been your role-models over all these years?

“I don’t have role-models but people for whom I have a lot of respect and that has had a great impact on my life, like Michael Jones the All Black flanker, my grandfathers and grandmothers, my parents, my uncle Kola Harmse, uncle Simon Streicher, George le Roux, Toelie Swart, Louise Coetzee, my good friend Ettiene Bruwer, Elizebeth van uuren, Bertus Jansen, Basie Koen and Chris Botes from ASA, There are plenty more, each of these people I believe has been placed on my path by the Lord to have an influence on my life, so in a certain manner all of them are role-models to me.”

At which meeting over all these years have you experienced the best atmosphere?

“This might sound funny, but it was in 2008 in Addis Ababa Ethiopia at the African Champs. Ethiopia is known for their long distance athletes but it was incredible how the people supported the hammer throw competition, the atmosphere was amazing!”

Chris Harmse has been dominant throughout plenty years and it seems as if no one will come close to his performances or records, when asked if there were any youngsters in this country that he thinks could take down his record he said “I was very excited when Werner Smit won the 2002 World Junior Champs, he has amazing talent and determination but he has a serious back injury now. Currently I think that Tsepang Makhetle has the ability to go very far, he has everything to throw even further than I have”. Tsepang who trains with Harmse at the Vaal University of Technology (VUT) and Sasolburg Technical High School (STHS) Hammer Academy.

“Accept who you are and with what the Lord has blessed you, work hard on it and honor God with it” – Chris Harmse

EC Media Manager – Adriaan Aldridge