Growing up, Breyton Poole’s one major concern was that he is shorter than his competitors and he was often told that, because if his height, he would never succeed as a high jumper. He knew that he had to work harder than everyone else, and on Saturday, his hard work paid off when he was crowned the Under 18 High Jump World Champion.
Breyton cleared 2.24m at the IAAF World Under 18 Championships in Kenya, beating Germany’s Chima Ihenetu, who cleared 2.14m. He added 6 centimeters to his personal best and only missed the South African Under 18 record by 1 centimeter (which was set in 2000).
Of his win, Breyton says that he feels both exhilarated and in shock. He says that he was patient going into the event and it gave him more confidence to do his best. His dad, Herman, confessed to crying when Breyton won.
Born and raised in Cape Town, Breyton started participating in athletics in grade 4 and by the time he had left primary school, he had already earned his colours in 4 different sporting codes, including hocky and gymnastics. In the last year of primary school, he competed in the SA Primary School championships and managed 5th place, a result he was not too happy with. Instead of letting the result get him down, he decided to work even harder and by 2016, he was South Africa’s top under 17 high jump athlete.
He says that the key to his success is patience and considers hard work to be more important than raw talent. Everybody has a specific talent, but without hard work and patience, that talent will be useless.
When he is isn’t busy with sports and school work, Breyton enjoys braaing with his family and being sports fanatic, he also enjoys playing rugby and soccer. He played for the Western Province under 12, under 13 and under 16 teams, but he decided to give up professional rugby and focus on high jump. An academic achiever, Breyton also considers education as a foundation for how your life will turn out. Having excelled at so many aspects of his life, he does admit that the one thing that he is not good at is singing.
His long term goal is to become Olympic material and to compete in the 2020 Tokyo games. Despite his success, he still feels that he is not yet the best he can be and is constantly working to improve his records and become mentally stronger.
He also wants to find ways for others that are not as fortunate as him, to gain access to resources so that they can also achieve their goals. He is aware that his parents have given all the resources that he needs to achieve his goals, but he is also aware that there are others who do not have access to these resources.
His advice to anyone wanting to pursue high jump is that you must have a passion for the sport and the stamina to pursue your goals, regardless of the setbacks. There will always be a better athlete but you should never feel intimidated. Learn from your opponents and strive to become the best at all times. He believes that your character is tested when you get knocked down. You can either stay down or stand back up. The choice is yours.