southafrica

Meet Alyssa Conley- From Olympic Sprinter to Springbok Rugby hopeful!

Alyssa Conley was crowned the National Sprint Champion in South Africa

Alyssa Conley was crowned the National Sprint Champion in South Africa

South African sprinter, Alyssa Conley has made a bold career move in recent weeks! The 200 metre runner, who represented her country at the 2016 Olympics in Rio De Janeiro, has decided to put her track career on hold, and pursue a career in Rugby 7s! She hopes to learn the game from scratch and use her electric pace to become a top Rugby winger.

We spoke to her on the Rugby Podcast about the decision she has made and how she feels about her new day job. Will she be good enough to break into the Springbok Womens’ Sevens side? Can she compete at the Tokyo Olympic games in 2020? Tune in below and listen to our chat with Alyssa Conley:

Will Alyssa Conley go on to represent South Africa in Rugby?

"Deep down I'm a fighter and I'm not going to give up"- Wenda Nel

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Olympic Hurdler Wenda Nel spoke to Planet Sport's Norman Brierley about what has been a tough season for the South African, but also how despite all of this, she continues to fight, to be an example to others and to 'live out the gift that she has been given'.

Listen to the full Planet Sport interview below:

"I'm a human being first and then an athlete second"

South Africa v New Zealand (Commonwealth Games 2018)

South Africa v New Zealand (Commonwealth Games 2018)

Keenan Horne plays for South Africa's Hockey team. At 26, he has broken into the national side and featured in their recent tournament at the Commonwealth Games earlier this year.

Planet Sport's Liam Flint spoke to the man himself, on Gold Coast, Australia, in amongst the busy competition schedule, to find out more about the number 10 and see what has propelled him to the top of the sport:

Listen to the full Planet Sport interview with Keenan below:

Charl Du Toit: South African Double Paralympic & World Champion

Charl Du Toit with Planet Sport's Tom Ellis

Charl Du Toit with Planet Sport's Tom Ellis

South African Charl Du Toit  is a reigning double World and Paralympic sprint champion.  Competing in the T37 class for athletes with Cerebral Palsy.

He won gold at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio in the 100m and 400m, before sitting a new world record for the T37 100m of 11.35 seconds at the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia!

Planet Sport's Tom Ellis caught up with Charl at the Commonwealth Games in April to find out more about this exceptional athlete and his life, career and faith:

Listen to the full Planet Sport interview with Charl below:

Racing against your roommate- Meet Dyan Buis & Charl Du Toit

Dyan Buis (L) with Charl Du Toit (R)

Dyan Buis (L) with Charl Du Toit (R)

Dyan Buis and Charl Du Toit are the epitome of a competitive friendship, the two South African Para athletes, both medaled at this year's Commonwealth Games, running in the same T38 category event. Fierce competitors on the track, they also share a deep friendship off it, where they share a common love for their sport and their faith in Jesus. 

Planet Sport's Tom Ellis caught up with the pair, before and after their medal-winning exploits to talk about what it means to represent their country together and how the focus on para-athletes is growing. 

Listen to the full Planet Sport interview below:

"I have had so many miracles in my life"

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South African Rugby pro Tera Mtembu, spoke to Planet Sport about his Super Rugby career with the Sharks, his love for Liverpool FC and what the future holds for him in the game.

Tera speaking on:

What he expects from 2018 . ."Firstly, I am focused on what God wants for me. Every professional athlete goes through ups and downs but what God wants for me is what I am going to achieve. I will take and control what I can control which is keeping my faith strong."

Representing South Africa. . . "They are memories that I will never forget, I remember playing my first taste of senior rugby and it was definitely a highlight of my career so far. It's something that you can't really explain and I appreciate it more now that I did back then. It was a surreal experience and I'm really grateful."

His drive to still play international rugby. . ."Yes it definitely is, in the situation that I am in now, not many people are giving me a chance which is fine. Since I was young I've always tried to overcome adversity, and ever since I've had the Lord in my life somehow I have proven people wrong. It definitely still is the ultimate but if it doesn't happen then it's not the end of the world. I will never stop working hard and believing."

Adapting from rugby Sevens to Fifteens. . ."It's easier playing sevens and then transitioning to fifteens than the other way round. For me it came at the perfect time, when you go to sevens you sharpen up, you have to be accurate in sevens with your passing and you get drilled. It triggered my rugby to where I am now."

His love for Liverpool football club. . . "Back in 2008 a friend of mine used to talk about Liverpool all the time! The game where they beat AC Milan in the Champions league final, he talked about that game for the whole year.  So I started to watch soccer and ended up supporting Liverpool."

Why his Christian faith so important. . . "Because I've had so many miracles in my life. I made a conscious decision to start reading the bible in 2008. I was fortunate to play first team rugby at school for four years, the first two years I played but was pretty average. So at the end of 2007 I needed change in my life, I had been working hard but just wasn't growing. So in January 2008 I just decided to open a bible to just be there with God and hear what he had to say. I started praying each and every day and it's amazing how my life turned, on and off the field. Ever since then, I've had the Lord close to my heart. I've achieved things that I would never have imagined just because of my faith. It's been a tough road but I will just follow His lead and do what He wants me to do."

How that faith changes how he sees sport. . ."I am going on the field and he takes over my body, he is driving the steering wheel. I don't set myself personal goals anymore, I just pray to the Lord and thank Him for the opportunity to do what I love on the stage that I'm on."

Being himself, in the rugby culture. . ."As you get older it does get easier, when you are coming in as a youngster it's tough because you get stuck into a bubble. Once you are in that bubble, you can get stuck and forget your values and identity. I also got stuck in that bubble for a while and so I had to look at myself in the mirror, to find my feet. My faith has just grown stronger but it's what you make of it. Rugby shouldn't define you as a person."

 

Akani Simbine- On being the fastest man in the Commonwealth

South Africa's Akani Simbine & Henricho Bruintjies

South Africa's Akani Simbine & Henricho Bruintjies

South Africa's Akani Simbine, is a rising star in world athletics and he took things to a new level with an eye-catching Gold medal run in the Commonwealth Games. In pipping the much-fancied Jamaican, Yohan Blake, he is officially the fastest man in the Commonwealth over 100m.

Planet Sport's Tom Ellis caught up with the Simbine and his fellow countryman, Henricho Bruintjies who clinched Silver on Gold Coast, Australia. 

Here's what they made of their one-two podium finish:

Kombo Bere: "The bigger goal is to go to the Olympics and one day win the world champ jerseys"

Kombo Bere- Zimbabwean national athlete

Kombo Bere- Zimbabwean national athlete

Mountain Biking sensation, Kombo Bere took time out of his busy trail schedule to talk to us at Planet Sport about his career, his motivation to make the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, and also how he sees riding as a platform to showcase his God-given talent.

As the Zimbabwean national champ, Kombo is now based in South Africa where he races for Team Pyga Euro Steel. 

Listen to the full Planet Sport interview below:

Day 3: Australia start strongly & so do we

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By Liam Flint

The last couple of days have seen a sharp rise in activity on the Gold Coast, transport has been maxed out as ticket-holders look to reach venues and the tourist hotspots. Australia's strong start, especially in the pool, has given locals an air of excitement and truly ignited the underlying passion that everyone is feeling towards the Games.

The carnival and festival scene has also really kicked off along the coast, supplying beach-goers on Surfers Paradise with 'voices from the commonwealth' every evening. 

Njiel Amos- Botswana

Njiel Amos- Botswana

We have done a lot of travelling, up and down the Gold Coast tram link, in our attempts to be in the best spot at the right time. We have been capturing features for our Planet Sport show, soaking up the atmosphere and busily arranging interviews with athletes from around the Commonwealth.

We spoke to Botswana runner Nijel Amos, the Commonwealth Games reigning champion over 800m. He is always a great character and he has a real zest for life, he is always more than happy to talk about his faith, what it means to him and how much God is his motivation for being the best.

Charl Du Toit- South Africa

Charl Du Toit- South Africa

The Para events are being run alongside the Commonwealth Games schedule at this Games, which is a big step in the right direction for equal coverage and Games reputation. On this note, we spoke to South African runner in the T37 category, Charl Du Toit about this shift in how things are done. He was excited to be in and around the entire Team South Africa and fancies his chances at a medal. He did stress that he wasn't looking as high as Gold though! 

JP Duminy: 'God looks at my heart, not my performance'

JP Duminy, is an icon of South African cricket, a man who has played 46 test matches, 177 ODIs to date and 71 international T20s. He's still going, and after recently hanging up his test boots, the 33-year-old is now fully focusing on the shorter format of the game.

The all-rounder spoke to us in a Planet Sport exclusive about his journey with the Proteas, including where he likes to tour most, which young stars we need to be watching out for and how his faith in Jesus trumps anything he's ever achieved in cricket. 

Listen to the full interview below:

 

 

 

Ruswahl Samaai: 'I see myself as an Olympic champion, God-willing'

After the 2017 World Athletics Championships in London, we sat down with South African Long Jumper, Ruswahl Samaai to reflect on his Bronze medal at the Champs. We also discuss why South Africa are producing so many quality athletes in the sand!

A talented sportsman growing up, the 26-year-old had options . . ."At first I was a Triple Jumper in high school. I ended up doing Long Jump in 2012. The training for long and triple jump is exactly the same so we made a switch. From then on, right up until today I’ve now just focused on my long jump, so back in the day, I was another Christian Taylor!" 

 

Samaai is part of an elite group of South African long jumpers who are constantly pushing the boundaries of the event, he regularly competes with the likes of Luvo Manyonga, who won Gold at the World Championships, Khotso Mokoena and Zarck Visser, When asked about his recent bronze and the relationship between the rivals, he put it like this:

"I headed to London for the win, unfortunately that didn't happen. Whenever I see Luvo, Zarck or Khotso at a meet my mind starts getting into beast mode. So it’s awesome, we all strive to be better as long jumpers and we all have a hunger to be the best in our country. When I am home I am not competing against any guys, I am competing against the best in the world at every single meet. That builds character."

His competitiveness and drive to be the best is a stand-out attribute to his success, he did however point out another factor in his life that he believes will see him become Olympic champion:

"Faith plays a huge role in my life, let me take you back to the Olympics last year in Rio, I was one of the favourites to win an Olympic medal, I got injured two days before the competition and that completely threw me off. That was not my plan, I wanted to be the best that I could be and execute my plan, I was mentally frustrated and angry at God. It took me a while to trust him fully again, I asked why did you bring me so far and then fail me? It doesn’t make sense. At times I was so angry but after trusting him again everything starting changing and falling back into place."

 

"It came down to be believing in him and knowing that his plan for my life has already been mapped out, the only thing is to get me to fulfilment. After that, I fully committed myself to him and whatever happens this year I have faith on and off the track. It changed my life as a sportsperson and as a person. We have to believe that he has a plan for us and give everything into his hands. I see myself as an Olympic champion if it’s God’s will, I see myself as a world record holder, all of those things are possible."

Ruswahl ended with one piece of advice for aspiring long jumpers:

"All I can say to the young long jumpers out there is to have faith, don’t let the circumstances fool you, God has a plan for your life."

In interview with Springbok star Pierre Spies

We caught up with South African number 8, Pierre Spies for a Planet Sport exclusive. After a recent announcement to retire, we spoke to the 32-year-old about his future plans and we look back on his memorable moments! Read the transcript below:

Pierre, where did your love for the game of rugby come from?

“In South Africa Rugby is a big sport so when you are young you want to play, my dad also played rugby for the Bulls so we grew up with it. We had a rugby ball at home and in the backyard we would act like we were running over guys and scoring tries. That’s where the love came from and I basically started when I was eight years old.”

You went to school with a few buddies who have now gone on to be greats in world sport, tell us about those guys!

"I come from a boys’ school in Pretoria and I know some proper cricketers, golfers and a well-renowned pianist. AD De Villiers was a year ahead of me and he used to play fly half, Faf Du Plessis also, who plays for the Proteas, Heino Kuhn and many good cricketers. It’s great to be part of a school with some great sports people coming out of it.”

“Absolutely, if you are shooting at a dream then the pinnacle is where you want to be. What’s my goal? I wanted to play for the Springboks from a young age and I was fortunate enough to have it come my way. I played many games and was part of great teams. It was just an amazing journey for me.”

You recently announced your retirement from pro rugby, talk us through that process? What drove that decision?

 “Well, things don’t always work out the way that you planned, I was planning on retiring after the two years left on my contract but when we finished the season I went about praying and God told me that it was my time. So I made the decision to finish my career and prepare for the next part. I think everyone reaches this moment in different ways, for me the moment I made up my mind it was settled in my heart. I can look back on my career with fulfilment and joy.”

When rugby is all that you’ve known for so long, is the prospect of ‘retirement’ from it, scary? It must become your identity somewhat.

 “It does but that’s where I have been quite intentional, you have to make sure that it doesn’t become your identity even though people identify you as that. I was thinking about the day that I would retire a lot and how you want to be remembered, what kind of person you want to be. Something that I also applied in my life was having friends outside of the game which keeps you in touch with normal life.”

You often speak publicly about your faith in Jesus, what was missing in your life, to make you think that you needed to put your faith in something more?

 “I was a young man with a very promising future, but I was living a life of my own, going about it how I wanted and not being focussed. After a lot of partying I reached a point where my conscience started eating me up because I knew the way that I was living wasn’t right. A friend invited me to church and it was a moment that changed the rest of my career, I was twenty years old and I became a born-again Christian. I gave my life to God and said that I would live for him and not for myself. My life was never the same again, he completely turned my life around and gave me fulfilment which is something that sport and partying could not give me.”

 People may say well the only reason you believe that there’s a God is because you were told to think that growing up, what would you say to that?

 “Your parents, whether you believe in something or not, are laying a foundation in your life, so if you are a Christian your parents will lay a Christian foundation, if you are a Muslim or if you believe nothing, you parents are still laying a foundation. But there comes a point in your life where you have to decide for yourself, what you want to believe and what kind of world view you have. For me, that day arrived when I was twenty years old, there had been some foundations laid by my parents but that didn’t make me a Christian. It was the day I decided for myself, not for my friends or my family.”

Faf Du Plessis on Captaincy, Tattoos and Christ

Faf Du Plessis leads South Africa in the Test Match arena and has long been considered one of the finest batsmen in world cricket. The 33-year-old is a sensation who has featured in global T20 tournaments such as the IPL, Ram Slam and Big Bash.

We spoke with him during the Proteas 2017 tour of England, to talk about the realities of being a pro cricketer and how his faith in Jesus is at the centre of it all. 

Listen to the interview here: