An Olympics Profile of Lindsay Hanekom

Lindsay Hanekom describes a successful person as someone who rises above their circumstances, who is willing to work hard, to sacrifice and chase their dreams. In early 2016, Lindsay suffered a serious injury and was only expected to qualify for the Olympics in 2020. On the 7th of May 2016, he ran 49.03 seconds to beat the Olympics qualifying mark, and on the 14th of July 2016, it was announced that he would be part of the hurdles team heading to the Olympics.

Born and raised in Blackheath, Cape Town, the youngest of four brothers, Lindsay had to accept that there would not be enough money for the nice things that the other kids had. Even though they could not afford such things as a bycicle, Lindsay’s parents made sure that he was given what he needed to become a success in life. He remembers the first pair of running spikes his dad bought him. His dad would save up money and make sacrifices to make sure that Lindsay had those spikes. Lindsay says that even if he did not get those spikes, he is greatful for the fact that there was food every night,and a roof over his head.

Despite all his hardships, Lindsay loved his parents and his parents loved him. However, at the age of nine, Lindsay experienced the loss of his mother, the most painful event he had experienced. To this very day, it still hurts for him to think about that moment. Faced with such a tragic loss, we are all capable of choosing the worst possible solutions to deal with our pain. Lindsay could have chosen drugs, alcohol or gansterism, but instead of all these negative options, Lindsay chose sports.

At first, he was not very serious about pursuing athletics as a career. Track and field was just a way for him to forget about his struggles, let go of the pain, and be happy. He started doing long distance and cross country running, after which he focused on the 400 meters, 110 meter hurdles, and 400 meter hurdles. He only began to take athletics seriously in matric, where he ran his first 400 meter hurdles race at the zonal high school championships. His career as an athlete really began when a friend saw that he had potential and decided to help him. He then went to compete in the South African Juniors, but it was a slow start. He eventually realised that Cape Town did not have the proper structures to develop hurdles athletes and Pretoria was the place to be if you want to be a hurdles champion. He then moved to Pretoria in 2015 where he joined the Tuks Athletics team at the University of Pretoria.

After realising his full potential at Tuks, he competed in the South African Senior Championships, won the under 23 title in the 400 meter hurdles, won the 400 meter hurdles at the University Sport South Africa meeting, won the 400 meters hurdles at the South African Opens, qualified for the world student games held in South Korea, continously improved on his own records, and finally, qualified to represent South Africa at the Olympics in the 400 meter hurdles. It was not an easy task to get to this point, but he never gave up, stayed strong, and kept his eye on the ball.

Lindsay is currently enrolled for a degree in sports science and firmly believes that education is the most important tool to build your dreams and shape your future. He loves hanging out with his friends, playing dominoes and cards, watching sports on television, enjoys singing in the shower, plays soccer (he supports Liverpool and played for the Young Rovers in Cape Town), listens to old school and R&B, and if he wasn’t an athlete, he would loved to be an actor on 7de Laan. His role models include hurdles champion, Cornel Fredericks, a person he describes as one of the nicest and most modest athletes he has ever met.
He says that everyody faces difficulties in life and everyone’s background tells a completely different story but he is just happy to overcome some of these obstacles because it made him the passionate athlete he is today. He says that he is greatful to those who had a positive influence in his life and believed in him even when he did not believe in himself. These people include his family, friends and his old coach, Emil van Wyk, a person he still turns to for positive encouragement.

This is a story of a boy who had faced struggle and loss, who could have chosen to succumb to defeat, but refused to be broken. When his mother died, he chose to honour her memory by being the best that he can be. The story of Lindsay Hanekom is indeed a story of greatness in the making.

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