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20 April 2020 | in FISU Athletes

Chabangu breaks South African triple jump record

Zinzi Chabangu competing for her universityZinzi Chabangu became the first South African triple jumper to go past the 14 metre mark, as she landed a gold medal with a distance of 14.02m at the Athletics Gauteng North league meeting in Pretoria last month.  

 

The 23-year-old, who is studying Honours in African Studies and Public Policy at the University of Johannesburg, broke the previous record of 13.89 metres. Her previous best had been 13.65m.

 

“Winning a medal feels great, it is a reward for all the hard work you put in,” said Chabangu excitedly.

 

The current South African and USSA champion is confident she can improve on her own record but realises the biggest mistake she could make is being obsessed with certain distances.

 

However, breaking the South African record opens the door for Chabangu to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics next year with the qualification standard being 14.32m.

 

Zinzi Chabangu (left), with fellow UJ athletes Patience Ntshingila (middle) and Desire van Wyk (right)Zinzi Chabangu (left), with fellow UJ athletes Patience Ntshingila (middle) and Desire van Wyk (right)Chabangu started triple jump back in 2011, when she asked one of her high school mentors to teach her the sport. Soon after, she discovered that her role model Patience Ntshingila (also a South African athlete) was an avid triple jumper too.

 

Chabangu went on to train alongside Ntshingila at University of Johannesburg, and it was Ntshingila’s record that she ended up surpassing.

 

Shyly, she says she has lost count of the many medals she has won during a decade in the sport.

 

However, she notes “My greatest achievements would of course be breaking the South African record and being the first one from all these amazing triple jumpers to jump a 14m because I have no doubt that they can do it too. But it feels amazing, being the first to open that doorway.”

 

Chabangu has an impressive competition list under her belt so far. In her professional career, she has represented South Africa at two World University Games (2015 in Gwanju and 2019 in Napoli), World Youth Championships (2013), World Junior Championships (2014), CUCSA Games (2018), Continental Cup (2018) and at the African Games last year.

 

“Representing your country is such an honour but also pressure because you’re just thinking of everyone who is supporting you and the main focus is giving your best and not letting your country down,” said the record breaker. Chabangu cites the Continental Cup as a treasured memory for her as she “wasn’t just representing her country, but the African continent as a whole”.

 

Chabangu hopes she can follow in the footsteps of another one of her role models -Caster Semenya - and rewrite history books at the Olympics. She continues to persevere and train towards that goal, which is slowly coming within her reach.