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SA coaching combo completes an Olympic circle
- Updated: July 26, 2016
By Mark Etheridge
in Rio de Janeiro
Olympic history is constantly being made and when Team South Africa for the 2016 Rio Olympics was announced, for one particular husband and wife, the wheel had turned full circle… let’s make that a ring, this being an Olympic year.
Yes, the Johannesburg-based Van Niekerks (Owen and Maryna) now both boast the honour of having been on the coaching squad of an Olympic Games
Owen was part of the coaching squad at the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway and now Maryna, pictured right, is in the track and field coaching line-up for this year’s Games in Brazil.
Both boast distinguished careers on and off the field of play. Owen held the national triple jump record of 15 years and went on to coach more than 600 national champions down the years.
For Maryna’s part she held the national and continental long jump record for an amazing 17 years and won 24 national tiles in a career of 24 years.
After their competitive careers ended, Maryna started the Peak Performance club which helped coach and develop athletes, young and old, with disabilities.
Having just completed a Sport Psychology MA research project on the ‘Effect of a mental skills programme on anxiety of athletes’, Van Niekerk told Road to Rio 2016: ‘What an honour to be selected as one of the coaches for the Rio Olympic Games.
‘It’s truly an unbelievable honour and a huge privilege. When the team was announced I was so emotional I didn’t even see the other names. I’m still looking for a clip of that television announcement to keep for myself.’
‘I’ve never been to an Olympics so it’s extra-special. Owen’s already been to four! Now there are two people in house who have been!’
Picture of Team SA at the official send-off last week, courtesy of Wessel Oosthuizen. Picture of Van Niekerk, supplied