BY CLEMENT DU PLESSIS
This is the final chapter of a two-part series about former star athlete and cricketer Eugene Moleon.
Read part one here Moleon towered over his opposition.
EUGENE Moleon competed in an era which included class athletes in Gavin Lenders (high jump), Safwaan Simons (sprints), the twins Rafiek and Rashied Dirk (sprints), Eddie van der Westhuizen (field events), Geraldine Pillay (sprints), Nina Hendricks (400m), Bronwyn Bock (high jump and sprints), to name a few, ‘they were all in the same WPSSSU team with me’.
He also remembers the talent of middle-distance runner Edward Chivette of Aloe High School in Mitchell’s Plain. Chivette was the youngster ripping up the boys under 14 and 15 records in the 800m and 1500m.
SASSSA and SAAAB
Moleon also represented the South African Senior Schools Sports Association (SASSSA) at one of the last South African Amateur Athletic Board (SAAAB) Track and Field meetings in 1993, winning all four events he competed in (100m, 200m long jump, and 4x100m relay).
He has a personal best of 21,3 seconds in the 200m and 7,59m in the long jump set at the Junior championships in Germiston.
Not one for having a quick start, Moleon has a best of 10,6 seconds in the 100m.
He also won all three individual events in the WPSSSU boys open section; the 100m (10.9 sec), the 200 (21,78 sec) and the long jump (7,38m) at the last Champion of Champions meeting on the slower grass surface of the Athlone stadium in 1994.
Moleon was introduced to club athletics by his coach Allan Pather.
Said Moleon: “Schools’ athletics was great and there were good competitors, most of whom didn’t compete at the club level. I found that at the clubs, it was a different environment, a different style of competition. I found out when I went to the SA junior champs. There were more heats, more qualification rounds that I wasn’t used to. I didn’t train for this. I only trained to run fast and to jump far, not to get through the several rounds for one event. Schools’ only had a sectional meet, semi-champs, and champ of champs meetings.”
Perhaps, the point Moleon had made, ‘we were raw, and we just ran’.
Rigours of training
Athletics require the rigours of training to endure more than just a couple of races at two or three school meetings.
Moleon was more than just an athlete.
He could bowl fast, leap high in volleyball and played football for Clarewood, a club affiliated to Cape and District Football Union in Wynberg.
He is a very good friend of his school mate Quinton Fortune, the former Manchester United football player in the UK.
Fortune is a South African former professional footballer who played as both a midfielder and a defender. He moved to Europe at the age of 14 to play for English club Tottenham Hotspur, but work permit issues meant a move to Spain with Mallorca in 1995. Fortune signed for Manchester United for a fee of £1.5 million on 1 August 1999.
Moleon’s cricketing achievements, though, appear to stand out above football and volleyball.
Cricket writer John Freudenberg writes, “Just two years after first picking up a cricket ball in anger, promising pace bowler Eugene Moleon is about to embark on his third international venture. The 20-year-old Western Province player . . .”
By then Moleon had toured India and the revered Marylebone Cricket Club at Lord’s as an under 19 cricketer.
He had a ‘late’ introduction to cricket because Garlandale High School did not offer cricket.
Nonetheless, his rise in cricket was rapid.
He bowled his way into the USASSSA MTN WP under 19 A team with fast bowler Mulligan George of Mondale High School during the Coca-Cola Cricket week in 1995.
Victoria Cricket Club
Well-known sportsman and national bowling coach Vincent Barnes was the coach of the WP under 19 team which travelled to East London.
Barnes, George, and Moleon were members of the Victoria Cricket Club. Another who joined Victoria was Ashwell Prince, the current Cobras cricket coach.
“Ashwell and I met in 1993 at the Dal Josaphat Stadium in Paarl where the SASSSA meeting was held. We made the 100m final and I will never forget his first words to me, he looked up and said, ‘moet ek nou teen jou hardloop?’ (must I now run against you?) We then ran into each other playing cricket, he represented Eastern Province academy and I was part of the Western Province Super Juice Academy. A few months after that we represented South Africa u19 on a tour to India. We have always kept in touch, and during various stints in the UK, we always managed to hook up again. We have remained good friends and he and his family have helped me a great deal during that time,” says Moleon.
Moleon also rubbed shoulders with Hassan Pangarker, Faiek Davids, Renier Munnik, Ryan Maron, Mulligan George, Dean Machelm and Lloyd Ferreira to name a few of the 1997/1998 Western Province ‘B’ team. Convenor of Selectors was Goolam Allie, President Percy Sonn and the CEO was Arthur Turner.
He was in the environment of Eric Simons, Clive Rice, Shaun Pollock, Lance Klusener and Makhaya Ntini. He was selected to the SA Super Eight squad to tour Malaysia which included Pollock, Klusener, and Ntini.
Moleon equipped himself with several coaching certificates in athletics and cricket after his sporting career. He coaches a UCT cricket team and hopes to get involved in athletics sometime soon.
“I haven’t attended any local meets recently because I have been abroad in the UK. I have attended the UK athletics meetings in Birmingham and the Indoor Championships in Glasgow. It’s great having the opportunity to go to these events and watch top athletes perform. I am a coach in athletics as well and hope to get back into schools’ athletics in Cape Town and assist them in becoming better athletes. My belief is that there are a number of great athletes, raw in nature that have the potential to excel. They just need guidance and leadership.”