The future’s looking bright for star provincial hurdler

KEAGAN MITCHELL

Prolific hurdler Darren Riddles’ unbeaten track and field season came to an end after he finished third in the boys’ under-19 110metre hurdles, at the South African high schools’ championships, in Bloemfontein, at the weekend.

Having won the boys’ under-19 110m hurdles and 400m hurdles at the Western Cape Championships, at the Green Point track, last weekend, the 17-year-old had a good run at the national championships finishing in a time of 14.06 seconds in the 110m hurdles.

His times of 54.32 and 14.15 seconds in the boys’ under-19 400m and 110m hurdles at the Western Cape championships were enough to see him qualify for club nationals, in Germiston, in Johannesburg, next weekend.

He will hope to impress at nationals to reach his goal of representing South Africa at the World Junior Champs, later this year.

Darren said it was an achievement for him to earn the bronze medal. He believes he will be among the medal winners at the club nationals.

“When I lined-up for the finals, I started to get emotional because just to make the finals is something big. I feel confident that I will be on the podium at the club nationals, however, I will have my work cut out for me,” he said.

The young speedster is no stranger to the national competitions as he finished outside of the medal standings, at last year competition, in Rustenberg.

Earlier this month he also won the double in the same events at the Western Province Championships, at the Vygieskraal Stadium, in Athlone.

Darren said the competition at the WC champs was tough because he did not know what to expect from Boland and South Western District (SWD).

“I did not expect to win the double again but I did it and nothing is going to stop me from my dream to represent South Africa. All I could think of is the times I wanted to run in order to qualify for nationals. To run a heat and final on one day was not easy but I overcame it,” he said.

Last year he set a personal best of 13.85 seconds and 54.29 seconds in the boys’ under-17 110m hurdles and 400m hurdles respectively, at the WC champs, at the Coetzenburg Stadium, in Stellenbosch.

“If I can look back to all the hard work I have been through in the past year and considering the level of my fitness nothing is impossible,” said Darren, who loves the fact that athletics is an individual sport and believes it’s all about you and the clock.

“At the WP champs I got good competition in the 400m hurdles especially a good friend of mine Nurdeen Joshua from the Southern Zone who has been my biggest rival on the track over the years,” he said.

Darren credits his coach Theo Ross, who always encouraged him, come win or lose and his family, who always motivated him to stay strong, chase his dreams and make it a reality.

“They have supported me at all my events and always believed in me. Credit should go my teammates who have always been there for me,” he said.

The youngster comes from a great sporting background with both his parents, Asseline and Ameer Roelofse, receiving their national colours while they were at school. He is inspired by China’s Lu Xiang who became China’s first Olympic men’s champion at the Athens Olympics, in Greece, in 2004 to win the 110m hurdles.

“It was at Holy Trinty Primary school, in Elsies River where I saw a video of him. I told myself that I am going to be just like him and that is exactly what I am working towards,” he said.