Meadowridge resident, Jacques Van Zyl, 82, won three gold medals in the South African Masters Track and Field Championship, held in Oudtshoorn at the beginning of May.
Mr Van Zyl came first in the over 80 years division for 100 meters, 200 meters and 400 meters. Mr Van Zyl is also known as Jakobus by his running friends and spectators. He only started running at the age of 70, saying that in his early years he used to be a squash player.
“It’s actually a good story how I started. My grandchildren would come to visit me twice a week, and when their parents would come to fetch them, they’d make me run after the car with the children. My kids said ‘dad you run so fast, you must participate in athletics. “There’s the Masters Athletics.’ So I started.”
The athletic gene clearly lies in the Van Zyl bloodline, as his two sons, Dana and Oloff van Zyl, also managed to come back with a few medals on that weekend.
Dana took part in the decathlon, winning a gold medal, and Oloff won three gold medals; a bronze medal and silver medal for 110m hurdles, 400m hurdles, long jump, high jump and pole vault. Mr Van Zyl says he trains for four to five hours a week in Fish Hoek, running up mountain trails, on the beach and along pathways with another 85-year-old top athlete. He says that being a part of athletics has made his mind and body
healthier. He has also met a lot of interesting people in the athletic fraternity.
“The camaraderie in athletics is amazing to see,” he says.
Last year, Mr Van Zyl went to Spain to participate in the world championships of the Masters Athletics, coming back with a bronze medal. He said that was one of his biggest achievements, and he did not expect to come third in the world for his running.
Mr Van Zyl is getting ready to do cross country in winter, and then start athletics again in October. He says he wants to break his records and be the best he can be, nothing will stop him.