Kids’ chance to show the world, says field champion Janine Turner

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BY CLEMENT DU PLESSIS

I WAS always eager to learn and improve my technique as a field athlete in the company of Bernie Adams (BA) and Gawa Moyce.

I would stand behind BA and watch him heave the shot put. I was also lucky to have had Ms Moyce as my coach at Silverstream High School and against whom I eventually competed.

Janine Turner is seated at the Vygieskraal Stadium where Cedric van Wyk approached her.

Moyce and BA were, of course, the SA Board and former SA Schools champions at the time, and both were members of the Hewat Amateur Athletics Club which was open to athletes from schools and elsewhere.

Janine Turner was one of the club’s finest junior ladies’ field athletes. This is her story.

Even though Moyce and BA made a lasting impression on her, Turner credits Cedric van Wyk of Hewat as the coach who has influenced her career the most.

Hewat Training College

“Bernard Adams was the best male shot putter of my time and he unwittingly contributed to my technique, confidence and overall competiveness. I followed his every move at each meeting so that I could improve my skills,” says Turner of the big man who sadly passed on in July 2015.

Van Wyk, a student teacher at Hewat Training College in 1984 and a qualified field official, snapped up Turner while she had been sitting in the stands at the Vygieskraal Stadium in 1984. 

“I was sitting with a group of friends in the stand when Mr van Wyk came up to me and encouraged me to join the Hewat Club,” recalls Turner.

Turner, who was already at high school in 1984, made a mockery of the discus and shot put records as a 14-year old athlete. She attended Downeville Primary School in Manenberg and excelled in the 80m and 100m sprints!

Cedric van Wyk played a key role in Janine Turner’s development as an all-around field athlete. He is currently the vice chairman of track and field athletics in Western Province. PICTURE: Cheryl Roberts

“My interest in athletics started in 1981 at primary school. I participated in track events such as the 80m and 100m. In 1982, I found my passion in shot put, javelin and discus. However, there was no WP athletics competition in 1982 even though I had qualified for the team.  Mr True and Miss Pulley recognised my potential and cultivated my talent while I was at Downeville,” says Turner.

Record holders

Turner was an under 15 athlete in 1984, and already the Western Province Senior Schools Sports Union discus record holder with a distance of 30 metres. The group of athletes in her age group included record holders Roslyn Meyer (800m) of Sentinel, Amiena Dollie of Grassy Park (100m), Shameela Jordan of Silverstream (100m), and Nariman Ryland (high jump) of Rylands. All of these athletes migrated to club athletics.

“Club athletics gave us the opportunity to prepare properly for high school athletics, and, of course, the WP and SA club championships. We had more athletics meetings at the Vygieskraal Stadium and elsewhere. My teachers Mr Mogamat de Goede, Ms Moyce, Mr Freddie Arendse, Mr Alroy Oliphant made sure that a group of athletes from Silverstream High participated in the club meetings,” says Turner.

Janine Turner won the girls under 17 shot put at the SASSSA championships in 1986.

Van Wyk, says Turner, was the coach who refined her technique in all three field disciplines; the shot put, javelin and discus.

Even though Van Wyk resided in Retreat, deep in the southern suburbs, he made every effort to coach a group of field athletes at the Vygieskraal Stadium. Turner walked from Manenberg to the Stadium, a much shorter distance than Retreat, where she was put through her paces in 1984.

Port Elizabeth

“I trained in the mornings at Silverstream High School with the rest of the school team and in the afternoons I walked from Manenberg to Vygieskraal Stadium to meet my coach Mr van Wyk and trained there.  I also did weight training at the gym at Silvertree Youth Club in Manenberg”.

She did not qualify for the 1984 WPAAU junior ladies team, although the SA Board championships were held at the Vygieskraal Stadium. By 1985, she made the Western Province Amateur Athletic Union’s (WPAAU) team to Port Elizabeth.

“I was very young [under 15 in 1984] and still had a way to go as far as developing into a really good field athlete. Mr van Wyk had a lot to do with my development as a field athlete,” she says.

Turner recalls a satisfying moment in 1985 when she won a trophy and R10 for her sporting achievements on the field.

Here are some results which attest to Janine Turner’s ability as a field athlete.

“It was the first time I had been acknowledged for anything. It was a small trophy but it meant the world to me. The R10 prize money was a lot. This was my first ever R10 note…,” remembers Turner.

Treble

As an athlete four years the junior of most junior ladies athletes (under 19), Turner won all three of her field events at the SA Board Championships in Port Elizabeth in 1985.

In 1986 at the SA Board championships in Paarl, she won the shot put and javelin events, losing to Ilna Swiegelaar of Boland and her WP school and club team mate Susan Newman in the discus.

Turner names Leigh-Ann Naidoo, Cheryl October, Delores Groepies and Moyce as her greatest rivals at junior and senior level.

Janine Turner was in the winner’s circle at the SAAAB championships in Paarl in 1986.

With Moyce, it was a different case when it came to competition time.

Ms Moyce would coach and encourage me at school, but when it was time to compete against each other, the mood changed. We were competitors and rivals then,” says Turner.

SASSSA team 

With a grin, Turner says she has had the opportunity to beat Moyce, “but she and BA remained my idols”, she adds.

In fact, in 1989, she broke Moyce’s 1983 girls’ over 17 shot put record of 10,75m, improving it to 11, 42m. 

She was again selected to the WPSSSU and SASSSA team in the same year which included star athletes such as Tania Brown, Kashief Toefy, Anita Witbooi, Dean Daniels, Sandra Petersen, Owen Machelm, Farwa Mentoor (Francine Skippers), and a young Liesl van Oudtshoorn.

Janine Turner gained the first position in the girls under 17 javelin in 1986.

Interestingly, she followed the tennis achievements of Chris Evert, Martina Navaratilova and the athletics career of the barefooted Zola Budd.

Internationally in the field events at the time of the Cold War, Helena Fibingerová (Czechoslovakia), Helma Knorscheidt (East Germany),  Ilona Slupianek, (East Germany) dominated proceedings in the shot put with distances of 19 and 20 metres.

Eastern bloc

The eastern bloc countries were in the forefront of the field events which included Martini Opitz in the discus and Tiina Lillak of Finland.

Britain’s Fatima Whitbread was also in the mix in the javelin event.  Whitbread won the event at the World Championships in Rome in 1987 with a distance of 76, 64 metres, after being placed second in 1983.

Turner relished the prospect of international sport, but as with all the athletes in the fold of the South African Council on Sport (Sacos) in the 1980’s and the policy of apartheid, they were denied international competition.

“Even though we were isolated under the banner of SACOS, we still achieved and produced athletics of a high quality and standard. I do not harbour any bitterness because it was the struggle that we were moulded into the strong individuals that we are today. Yes, we lost out on international events, but we have a rich history in athletics for our kids to read and digest. We have paved the way for them. Now international sports present them with the opportunity to show the world where they come from,” says Turner.

 

One thought on “Kids’ chance to show the world, says field champion Janine Turner

  • May 27, 2017 at 7:41 am
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    Dear Clement, I can also add athletes such as Dirkie Pietersen, Francisco Karloff Naude, William Legolie, Adam Pekeur, Andre Moses, Granville Adams, Shaliem Moosa and Suzette Africa, who were part of the Paarl Achilles Club and Boland Schools. Daljosafat Stadium was always packed and our community was behind the sport. The SAAAB championships in George, and getting SACOS colours with people like Michael Le Cordeur handing over the medals were highlights. What an experience we had!

    Reply

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