Magerman swaps hoops for hurdles and Olympic gold
A year before Gezelle Magerman joined up with her South African team-mates for the 2014 Youth Olympic Games, she was told to choose between a career in netball and a tilt at Olympic gold.
400m hurdles gold medallist Gezelle Magerman
She chose the latter, and it paid off on 25 August, when she swept to victory in the women’s 400m hurdles in Nanjing. “It was a difficult decision. I was given a week to make up my mind,” she recalled. “I spoke to mum and my grandma and they asked me the question, ‘In which one do you think you’ll go furthest?’ That was athletics and it was the right choice. In the race I was like, ‘Gezelle you have a lot of energy left, let’s use it to the limit and see what happens’.”
What happened was a personal best time of 57.91 seconds and with it South Africa's first medal at the Games, but Magerman is keen to keep her prize away from prying eyes. “I’m definitely keeping this medal in a room, in a box,” she said. “Nobody touches it but me.”
The race was big on drama as Eileen Demes (GER) crashed into a hurdle and fell at the 200m mark. The crash meant that Anne Sofie Fruerskov Kirkegaard (DEN) had to keep her focus to stay on track and take the bronze. “I kept running and I was telling myself over and over again to just run faster and try to win a medal,” she said after crossing the line.
There was glory for France as they secured first place in the men’s javelin final with a personal best distance of 74.48m from Lukas Moutarde. “To even be here in a final is already great for me,” he said. “So to get on a podium is just incredible.”
In the men’s 800m final, Myles Marshall (USA) took gold ahead of Geofrey Balimumiti (UGA) with a time of 1 minute, 49.14 seconds. “Part of the plan was to get out of the mess and have my own little lane to run in,” said Marshall. “Getting overtaken at the second to last corner didn’t matter. In the last 200m of the race, I knew I was going to lay it down.”
There was also a special thank you from Amos Kirui (KEN) for his silver medal performance in the men’s 2,000m steeplechase final behind gold medal winner, Wogene Sebisibe Sidamo (ETH). “It was very tough,” he said. “But I thank God because he has made me great.”