THE children of South African sprint champions Nazeem and Lameez Smith are making a name for themselves in their adopted country New Zealand.
Mogammad Ebrahim and Zayyaan have already represented New Zealand in the sprints.
This past weekend Mogammad has returned from the NZ national high schools athletics meeting held in Dunedin where he won the boys 17 100m in 10,71 seconds.
He has been selected to the New Zealand high schools athletics team to compete in the Pacific Games for high schools in Australia later this month (17 countries).
“Mogammad will hook up with sprinter Carl van der Speck, who represented NZ as a sprinter and as part of a successful New Zealand 4x100m relay team at the Commonwealth Games,” says Nazeem.
(Van der Speck was coached by Nazeem at Mondale High School in Mitchell’s Plain, Cape Town before moving with his parents to New Zealand. He runs a business in Melbourne, Australia.)
Mogammad is also working with the national sprint coach Joe Hunter of New Zealand. He trains four days per week at Kings College School which is one of the only schools in New Zealand to have an international tartan track and an electronic timing device.
Mogammad has already clocked 10,5 seconds in the 100m at a low-key meeting, but those who watch him predict that he’ll go sub-10,5 seconds in the near future.
“Mogammad Ebrahim is a natural sprinter with all the attributes and ability of a world-class athlete and one to watch for the future,” says Hunter.
“I would like to be New Zealand’s first sprinter to run below 10 seconds,” says a mature Mogammad Ebrahim who nearly stands 1,85m tall as a 17-year-old.
Presence on the track
From the videos and photos gleaned, he looks like an athlete with a presence on the track and with an action becoming of a top-class sprinter.
At 17, he is by no means the finished product.
He is also involved currently in pre-season Blues u/18 training and has his sights set on representing New Zealand 7’s and New Zealand u/20. For now, he just wants to run faster and faster. The international schools’ meeting in Australia beckons.
His sister Zayyaan, a laatlammetjie, has already made her mark at primary school level in the sprints and, particularly, in the long jump. As an under 12 girl’s athlete, she has cleared 5,55m and has clocked 12,95 seconds in the 100m and 26,20 seconds in the 200m.
The siblings are members of the Waitakere Athletics Club, the biggest and most successful club in Auckland.
International Pacific Schools’ Games
Zayyaan has represented New Zealand at the International Pacific Schools’ Games.
“I have been setting myself goals. I am working towards clearing six metres when I am 16 years old,” she says.
Zayyaan has adopted the sprinting and jumping style of Carl Lewis after paging through her dad’s archives. She has a strong work ethic and follows a strong motto: “You never lose if you give everything . . . you either win or you learn.”
She is being coached by New Zealand sprint and hurdles coach Joe Hunter.
Zayyaan also plays representative netball as a centre (the same position her mom used to play), and is the team captain. She also captains the school touch rugby, soccer, cricket and ultimate Frisbee teams. She is currently a senior prefect and has excelled academically, hence receiving a Track and Field and Academic Scholarship for high school next year following her brother Mogammad Ebrahim at Kings College in Auckland. Zayyaan has been fast-tracked into the New Zealand Athletics Sprint Development Programme for 2018-2021.
Older brother Zubayr
The siblings have an older brother Zubayr, who carved out a career in cricket and rugby at Wynberg Boys’ High School, while they were still living in Cape Town.
After the Smith family’s move to New Zealand in 2009, Zubayr attended Avondale College, the second biggest school in New Zealand, becoming a deputy Head Boy (prefect) in his matric year. He captained the first rugby and cricket team as well as Sevens and Touch rugby. He represented Auckland High Schools in both sports, playing with All Black Akira Ioane. He will this year complete his studies in Physiotherapy and enrol for his master’s degree at Auckland University. He currently plays rugby for well-known Ponsonby RFC in Auckland and cricket with Black Cap Martin Guptill at Suburbs CC.
The Smiths have been on several visits to Cape Town since their emigration. They have New Zealand citizenship.