It All Started out as fan - Reece van Schalkwyk

The rotational thrower Reece van Schalkwyk started shot-put when he was in grade 7. He would throw only once or twice a year and only for his school cause being a professional meant doing the thing that you love to do, even on the days you don’t feel like doing them and he wasn’t willing to commit to that at that stage. As years went by Van Schalkwyk grew into a powerhouse of a man and his strength would soon show  its face whether he wanted it or not.

At the beginning of his matric year, the 17-year-old student from the SACS high school in Cape Town, impressed with his performances by improving their 10-year-old school record from 14.76m to 15.25m. Reece not only surprised them on that day, but also himself. One of South Africa’s leading long distance athletes Gladwin Mzazi said once that “On any given day that person who always came last can win and that person who always wins can lose, so always be prepared for both”. And this seemed to be the case with Reece. His strength would not only now benefit the school on the rugby field but also in the shot circle.

That was only just the beginning for this young man. A month later, he broke another record for the interschools that had stood for stood for 33 years. Reece improved that 33-year-old inter schools record from 15,51m to 15,56m. Records are indeed meant to be broken, but who would have expected Reece to come and do it in such style, suddenly a nobody was a somebody.

“Don’t ever let somebody tell you can’t do something. If you want something, go and get it” – Will Smith

The rotational thrower competed at the provincial championships, where he placed first, earning his spot in both the Western Province school and club teams. Sadly, he had to withdraw from the school championships because of illness. He managed to compete at the national champs in Bloemfontein and proudly claimed the 2nd spot in the country by throwing his personal best of 16.30m. The best throw of the season, however, may have been thrown by Jason van Rooyen, who threw a massive 18.95 at the African Junior Games and the World Youth Games.

When I asked him about what advice he can provide to the young shot-putters who want to succeed as badly as they want to breathe, he kept it short but powerful by saying “you set high goals and work towards them, simple”.

World Juniors is coming up this year and Reece will be aiming to get to that stage. As Orazio Cremona and Jaco Engelbrecht our front running seniors at this stage continue to set the bar, maybe one of these days we will see Van Schalkwyk competing head to head with our countries finest.

Written by Nelson Tramp