Updated: Sep 2, 2019
This situation was a first for me. Going into the High Jump Final with my boys jumping it off for the top 2 podium spots was the reality for something that I’ve dreamt of. Also, a first for these fledgling jumpers – Mingwen and Benjamin, peaking at the right time for their final Nationals appearance in this division. What transpired to this finish certainly didn't come easy as they’ve battled through personal struggles and self limiting doubts that came upon them.
2018 last year was a lacklustre season for the both of them. Benjamin suffered the most with a DNQ in Nationals as he struggled in confidence and his form was nowhere in sight. For Mingwen, a 7th placed finish was a thorn piercing on his confidence and a constant shin problem was also not helping his cause, leading to a loss in form. And so during the off season, we set ourselves to work differently. We focused on strength & conditioning and left out jumping and technical work almost completely for almost half a year which indirectly placed the stressors of jumping off their young minds.
2019 started with a huge positive for Mingwen as he regained his confidence and excelled at practice. This rebirth in confidence translated into a great run of form and in SA Schools Meet 2 2019, he steamrolled past 3 PBs and reached an all time high of 1.88m! Amazing improvement from a 1.75m PB of the previous year! Though the same cannot be said about Benjamin.
While we’re grinding out of the off season, Benjamin suffered a health scare and was admitted in the hospital for Bronchitis. In all, he was away for 2 months and was not fit for practice, let alone compete. It was a huge blow for us as he missed 2 crucial lead up competitions - SA Schools Meet Episode 1 and 2; 1 month before Nationals. He finally made it back in training in February albeit all scrawny and listless, with all that off season work almost left on a tether. SA Episode 3 was his last chance for some competition experience for the year, and while he managed a height of 1.7m, it was not up to his usual standard in training.
We had to be cautious, especially with his health concern being top priority and had to specially adjust his training programme leading to Nationals. Being a true fighter that he is, Benjamin didn’t give any excuses for his ill health. He turned up for trainings and worked hard to get his fitness back and was tremendously focused on technical work.
What happened today was a remarkable display of persistence and self belief. For Benjamin to have managed a second placed finish with a new Personal Best on this big stage was truly his own work. Mingwen, with a newfound confidence maintained his form and composure to bring home the Gold with a 1.85m. I am Massively proud of these 2 high flyers for stepping up and out of the doldrums of despair, erasing doubts and raising their own standards. Truly, this is what sports is all about.
A parting message for all you athletes out there reading this. I hope this story inspires you and if you have/are facing a similar situation, have heart and push through those doubts. Only then can you truly become, limitless.
Coach Fuád Idris
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Mingwen – 1.45m (8th)
Benjamin – DNS
Mingwen – 1.6m (2nd, Silver)
Benjamin – 1.55m (8th)
Mingwen – 1.73m (7th)
Benjamin – DNQ
Mingwen – 1.85m (1st, Gold)
Benjamin – 1.78m (PB, 2nd, Silver)