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Visser to lead the way for field athletes at World Indoors
- Updated: January 29, 2016
By Mark Etheridge
The 11-strong all-male South African team for March’s World Indoor Championships in Portland, Oregon (US) includes just three field athletes.
And of the three, only long jumper Zarck Visser has indoor experience. For fellow long jumper Ruswahl Samaai and decathlete (well heptathlon in this case) Willem Coertzen, it’s a case of going into unknown territory.
The remainder of the team are made up of sprinters (Henricho Bruintjies and Anaso Jobodwana), a hurdler (Antonio Alkana) and a 4x400m relay team (Ofentse Mogawane, Jon Seeliger, Thapelo Phora, Shaun de Jager and Sonwabiso Skhosana).
Says Visser: ‘I competed at the last World Indoors in 2014 and came 12th with a jump of 7.93m. It’s very different from outdoor competition but I kinda liked it. The venue is much smaller than a normal stadium so the crowd and track is very close so you get a really great atmosphere and it’s easy to get pumped up.’
Visser took silver at the last Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland two years ago but last year had a few injury problems. ‘I had a hip operation in January and then a few problems with my ankle but it’s all good now,’ he told Road to Rio 2016.
He’s recently swopped coaches, moving from Emmarie Fouche to Stephan Louw in Pretoria. ‘He’s changed a few things in my routine. I wouldn’t say it’s any harder but just different methods.’
And he’s pretty upbeat about world champs. ‘I’m expecting to do quite well. I’m feeling good, everything’s on track and I’d really like to jump in the region of 8.10-8.20m. I’m not worrying about who’s going to be there at all. I’m just worrying about myself and my own form.’
After worlds I’ll pop in and out of Europe and probably be based in Finland for short periods.’
What about fellow long jumper Samaai, a bronze medallist in Glasgow? ‘Training’s going good… actually super good. No niggles, or injuries, which I’m grateful for. Everything is going according to plan.
‘It’s going to be my first World Indoor Champs so I’m really looking forward to it. Haven’t set myself a distance that I want to jump because it’s going to be a first-time experience for me
‘But I’m going out there to give more than my best and make myself and my country proud. At the moment myself and coach Jenny Kingwill are taking things one step at a time and building towards worlds.
‘I don’t know what God has in store for me so I’ll just wait and see but in the meantime I have to put in the work and make the sacrifices.’
And he’s not too fazed about the unfamiliar indoor set-up. ‘No, I just need a few training session on the indoor track/run-up then I’ll be good. Its going to be strange but I see it as a challenge/opportunity which I’m going to grab with both hands and make use of. I live for that sort of thing. It might never come my way again, thats why I have to embrace it and make use of it.’
On to the team’s final field event and Coertzen is also very excited about the new experience.
‘Yeah really chuffed about World indoors, it’s so difficult for us to go as there’s no qualifying standard, you need to be invited and I got selected on last year’s rankings!
‘I’m not big on indoors because it’s so difficult to get in but I’ve got the chance now and really happy about it.
‘It’s quite a new experience for me as I only really trained indoors while in London, did a heptathlon once but didn’t put much effort in as I was struggling with my right ankle at that point and was then jumping 1.60m in the high jump.. I mean!
‘As for my training thus far, it’s going well and I’m happy with how I ‘m progressing, there’s lots of work that still needs to be done but the main focus is the Rio Olympics so I’m not adjusting my programme much to fit Indoors in and I want to get my peak right to be on form come Rio.
‘I’ll be in decent shape come Indoors but not sharpening up for it, you can’t peak twice so obviously I need to decide whats more important!’
There have also been some exciting developments in the one ‘weak’ area of his multi-event skill set… notably the pole vault.
‘With vault I’m starting to train with Okkert Brits [former Olympian and a member of the +6m club]. I’m flying down to Port Elizabeth to train there once every month for a week or two so really exited about that. He’s a great guy with a world of vault knowledge and a great mindset. Precisely the person I need at this point to get my vault sorted!’
The IAAF World Indoor Championships will be staged between 17-20 March.