Blades of glory



September 26, 2016
Blades of glory

Matthew, 18, and sister Abigail Samuels, 15, training at GrandWest. CREDIT: Manqoba Ngidi

Cape figure skating champs have sights set on the Olympics.

Move over Blades of Glory, because this brother and sister’s moves are hot enough to melt ice.

Siblings Matthew, 18, and Abigail Samuels, 15, have been making waves in the figure skating world, and are both on the SA national team.

In 2013, they both won gold medals in the novice division at the ISU World Development Trophy in the Philippines.

Matthew is currently the SA Junior Figure Skating champ, while Abigail is third in the women’s division.

The Summer Greens residents, who started skating 12 years ago, are now aiming for the 2022 Winter Olympics, and are raising funds to compete in Europe next month.

Abigail was just three years old when she strapped on her first pair of skates, testing the ice at GrandWest Casino in Goodwood.

It was here where she was spotted by their coach, Oula Jaaskelainen.

Matthew, who had just started ice hockey, decided to los the stick and puck, in exchange for the jumps and spins of figure skating.

They lived in Atlantis at the time, and would drive to Goodwood almost every weekend to skate.

Oula explains: “Abigail doesn’t have the physical build of a skater (she’s too narrow around the hips), but I could see the talent in her. Matthew has the perfect body for a skater and his attitude’s really good, he is so positive and driven.”

The two train daily for two hours, except on Sundays.

They attend the private Brainline Academy in Bellville, and teachers email them school work while they are competing abroad.

The cost of travelling, costumes, blades and participation fees don’t come cheap.

The future Olympians have started a BackaBuddy crowdfunding campaign to help them pay for their 2017 trips. The flights alone will cost them R80 000.

Their proud mom Suzette Samuels makes their costumes and doubles up as their mental coach and fundraiser.

“I’ve sold cookies, had dances, karaokes and raffles to fund their trips. They’ve dubbed me the Fundraising Queen,” she jokes.

“It’s a struggle, but it’s a struggle my husband and I are willing to take. It’s something my parents would never have been able to give me.”


Matthew will be jetting off this week to compete at the Estonian Junior Grand Prix. From there he will meet up with his sister in Germany for the Dresden Junior Grand Prix in October.

He says: “I only get two sessions on the ice to qualify for the finals in the Junior Grand Prix, so it’s going to be challenging, but I’m ready.”

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