MEET JASON TITO, SOUTH AFRICA’S BEST U/15 LONG JUMPER TO DATE ‘Athletics doesn’t suit you’, he was told. So he started training smarter, and when he started beating his competitors in grade 6, everything changed. Fast forward three years, and Jason Tito is the best u/15 long jumper ever in South Africa. Born and…
MEET JASON TITO, SOUTH AFRICA’S BEST U/15 LONG JUMPER TO DATE
‘Athletics doesn’t suit you’, he was told. So he started training smarter, and when he started beating his competitors in grade 6, everything changed. Fast forward three years, and Jason Tito is the best u/15 long jumper ever in South Africa.
Born and bred in Brooklyn, Cape Town, Tito had a natural feel for athletics, no wonder why you’d would always find him running around in the streets. ‘My mother introduced me to athletics, she used to do athletics until grade 11, so when I was running up and down (which was basically always) in the road, she told me I should run for my school. I tried it and it worked out!’ Determined to succeed, he started experimenting with the sport in grade 4 at Woodbridge Primary School, and when grade 6 came, he was already a force to reckon with. He knew he was capable of achieving greater heights, but that was never the case for his friends. ‘Some people I used to call friends said athletics doesn’t suit me, and it just made me feel like I had to show them they were wrong, and that you can do anything if you put your mind to it.’ What followed was a push in the right direction: ‘at the end of grade 7 I thought to myself, ‘I have a talent, let me not throw it away’, and then Prestige College offered me a bursary.’
Prestige College is one of the best sporting schools in South Africa, and their athletics program is no exception, so a bumpy road lie ahead for the champion as he now faced serious competition even at school level. ‘I was getting fourth and sixth place finishes, so I got fed up, therefore I started training and pushing myself even harder,’ said a psyched up Tito. But no matter how hard he worked, the results just did not show it, until he met his current coach, Reneilwe Aphane. Aphane is the 2017 South African triple jump champion, and also a talented, in fact, world class, coach. Having produced the 200m world u/18 champion, Retshidisitswe Mlenga, as well as prominent stars Cheswill Johnson (7.85m long jump) and world u/18 championships 400mh finalist Gontse Morake, Aphane proved to be heavenly sent for Tito. ‘Coach Reneilwe trained me from the third term last year, and I started coming first’ said an excited Jason. ‘I finished off my year with a 6.64m jump and I opened up 2017 with 7.05m.’ But what followed was a hip fracture that would sideline him for 5 months: ‘I was training 150m’s when I felt a snap in my leg. I didn’t know what it was, so I carried on running and no one took me to the physio, until one day I hurt it bad, so I went for an X-ray and it turned out my bone was broken.’
If you think he went about sobbing around, you are in the wrong. The 15-year-old used his time wisely and hit back even stronger. ‘I was on recovery for 5 months, but after my injury I opened up with a 7.36m and improved on it every time.’ Yes that’s true, he improved ever since. In fact, in all of his jumping outings since 16 September 2017 did he go further than the previous South African u/15 best of 7.27m. He went from 7.36m to 7.38m, and then last week, 7.48m.
He went from 5.98m to 7.48m in the first year of working under the tutelage of Aphane, so it won’t come as a surprise if he breaks the world record in the next decade. ‘I want to qualify for
world juniors with a jump of 7.65m by next year, and I hope to one day break the world record for the long jump.’
Photo by Pixall Sport
Written by Reggie Hufkie