Hero’s welcome for Alkana



August 22, 2016
Hero’s welcome for Alkana

HAPPY RETURN: Family and friends welcome Antonio back from the Rio Olympics. CREDIT: Noor Slamdien

Cape’s Olympic hurdler swamped by family and friends on his Rio return.

Olympic hurdler Antonio Alkana is back home and says he can’t wait to just chill with his family.

The Eerste River athlete arrived in the Kaap on Friday morning after making it to the semifinals of the 110m Men’s Hurdles in the Rio Olympics last week.

Antonio, 26, came seventh in a time of 13.55sec and even though he never won a medal, he received a warm welcome home as family and friends waited for him with banners and excited smiles at the Cape Town International Airport.

“I’m looking forward to the first family gathering now, maybe a braai,” Antonio tells the Daily Voice.

His proud parents Gail and Edward Alkana, both 55 years old, had tears in their eyes when they saw their son walk through the arrivals doors at the airport.

Die is trane van blydskap,” his mom said while wiping her eyes and trying to compose herself.

Swept up by the emotion, Antonio also fought back the tears as he accepted hugs and handshakes.

Fellow Olympian and gold medalist Wayde Van Niekerk flew 10 of family members out to Rio to watch him run, but Antonio wasn’t so lucky.

Edward says while they cheered him on from the couch, their hearts were with Antonio in Rio.

He says Wayde was one of the lucky ones to have his relatives there as many others had no one, just like him.

“Not all the athletes had their family there. But we’re Team SA so it felt like a family anyway,” he says.

Mom Gail says they are grateful to the local organising committees including WP Athletics and the SA Olympics Committee for all their help and support in getting Antonio to Rio.

This after her husband last week told the Daily Voice they sold boerewors rolls at community fundraisers to help raise funds for Antonio, who is a full-time athlete attached to the Bellville Athletics Club.

While his family is happy to have him back at home in Eerste River, Antonio is already thinking about his next challenge on the track.

“It’s the World Champs in London [in August] next year, so soon I’ll be back in training for that,” he says.

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