Family affair



July 18, 2016
Family affair

Wayde van Niekerk and Cheslin Kolbe

Speedy cousins Wayde and Kolbe chasing glory since their school days.

Distant cousins 400m world champion Wayde van Niekerk and pocket-rocket Sevens player Cheslin Kolbe will both be chasing gold medals in their respective events at this year’s Rio Olympic Games.

As primary schoolers, they played rugby in the same team but have since followed different career paths, each achieving success.

Van Niekerk has emerged as one of the top sprinters in track athletics, while Kolbe is one of the country’s top fullbacks in the XV-man game and a member of the Sevens rugby team.

Kolbe said the family was excited about the pair going to the same Olympic Games where Sevens would be making its debut at the quadrennial showpiece.

The Stormers and Blitzbok ace says: “We spoke about about a month ago how we will be making history in the family with two family members participating at the Olympics.

“The reality is only sinking in now, and I still have to pinch myself, for the two of us it is a great honour and a privilege for our family and to represent our country.”

Both have a realistic chance of winning medals at the Games with Van Niekerk one of the firm favourites for the one-lap sprint title in Rio de Janeiro.

The Blitzboks stumbled somewhat towards the end of the 2015-16 World Sevens Series finishing in second place, 10 points behind Fiji, even though Kolbe missed most the games due to Super Rugby games or injury.

The team will nevertheless be among the top contenders for the first Olympic Sevens title in Rio de Janeiro next month.

As laaities, Wayde and Kolbe would earn pocket money with the coach offering them R5 per try with their athletic ability proving to be quite lucrative.

Kolbe remembers: “Wayde was the fast one all the years, and we needed make sure we get the ball to him, and he just needed to run.

“I started out in athletics, I fell in love with rugby at a later stage, and I don’t regret the decision I made to specialise in rugby.”

“I decided to focus on rugby when the hurdles outgrew me, and at the end of the day I made peace with it.

“We may have chosen different routes but we chose the paths that we believed we can achieve in.”

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