Madibaz - Elmé Botha

Mandela University athlete Elmé Botha is eyeing new goals after winning the Eastern Province hammer throw title with a record distance at the weekend.

The 23-year-old achieved a personal best to set the new record at 58.80m during the EP Athletics Championships at the Madibaz Stadium in Gqeberha.

Botha’s effort was enough to better her previous mark of 56.78m and the provincial record of 52.80m, which she held.

Her winning hurl did not come without a measure of anxiety after her first two attempts resulted in no-throws.

“After those first two, I knew I just needed to keep calm and focus on getting at least one legitimate throw in.”

She regrouped to achieve a season’s best, followed by the record heave on her fourth attempt.

With the adrenalin flowing, her penultimate throw was also red-flagged.

“I think I was too excited,” she admitted.

Madibaz - Elmé Botha

Madibaz athlete Elmé Botha set a new Eastern Province record of 58.80m when she won the hammer throw at the EP Athletics Championships at Nelson Mandela University in Gqeberha over the weekend. Photo: Supplied

“My final throw was also a good one and I was in disbelief at the distance I was able to achieve. In fact, I still can’t believe it.”

The final-year B.Com student will next take aim at the University Sports South Africa championships in Stellenbosch in early-April followed by the senior nationals in KwaZulu-Natal a couple of weeks later.

“I’m aiming for a medal at the USSA champs and would like to improve my personal best to 60-plus metres at the SA championships,” Botha, who hails from Oudtshoorn, said.

As a youngster, she persisted with the technical event because of a fierce desire to prove someone wrong.

“When I started doing the hammer throw in Grade 8, I was told by someone that I would not be able to do it,” Botha, who has since gone on to represent EP, Western Province and South Western Districts, recalled.

“I just felt such a strong need to prove them wrong and, as I am very passionate about sport in general, it was no problem to grow fond of it and develop it as my best discipline.”

Before specialising in hammer throw, she also competed in discus, winning several national age-group medals.

Her early memories are of her family cheering her on and she attributes her success to the many “hours in the sun” her parents spent coaching her as well as the “thousands of kilometres” they drove to support her.

“I will never be able to thank them enough.”

The Madibaz thrower will now focus on her speed in the circle by doing explosive exercises in the gym under the watchful eye of coach Charlie Koen.

“I’m hoping to reap the benefits of that when the next big events roll around.”