Photo Credit: Stefan de Villiers & David Tarpey
After an exciting 2020 PUMA School of Speed Series, leading sports brand PUMA South Africa has welcomed six junior track and field stars, Banele Shabangu (18), Hannah van Niekerk (15), Precious Molepo (15), Robinn Thorburn (17), Vuyo Ndhlovu (18) and Breyten Connoway (15) as PUMA Future Stars for the upcoming season.
“We are excited to welcome these six exceptional young athletes as PUMA Future Stars,” says PUMA Marketing Director Brett Bellinger. “The PUMA School of Speed delivered spectacular results in 2020, making the selection process a difficult one. These six athletes really impressed us. We look forward to being with them every step of the way as they continue to excel in the exciting sport of track and field.”
Born in Barberton (Mpumalanga), Banele Shabangu is a proud student at Prestige College in Hammanskraal. According to Shabangu, the PUMA School of Speed gives athletes the opportunity to compete against the best of the best. “The Series motivates me to work hard. My events are the 200m and 100m sprints. I broke my PB (personal best) at the PUMA School of Speed #5 in Pretoria this year. I’ve dreamt about joining the PUMA family ever since I started participating in the Meets. My dream has come true.”
For Hannah Van Niekerk (Parkrand, Boksburg), a student at Helpmekaar College, PUMA is an exciting brand that is not scared to push the limits of functionality and style. “Being selected as a PUMA ambassador is a great honor. I am proud to represent the brand and look forward to showcasing our speed as 2021 partners. The PUMA School of Speed is a great event that is filled with energy and is very well organized. My goal is to medal at all the PUMA School of Speed Meets in 2021.”
Precious Molepo (Glenhazel, Johannesburg) had the crowd on the edge of their seats at the PUMA School of Speed #5 in February this year. This Prestige College learner set a SA best in the Girls U15 400m when she crossed the finish line at the Bestmed TuksAthletics Stadium in a lighting fast time of 53.93. Two weeks later she set a new personal and SA best (unofficial) of 53.59sec at the AGN Junior and Senior Championships. The previous record of 53.87sec was set by Helena De Villiers in 1988 (Port Elizabeth). “My events are the 400m and 200m,” confirms Molepo. “The PUMA School of Speed inspires me to do my best. I am honored that a great brand like PUMA chose me to represent them. In 2021 I would like to break the SA 400m record and I would also like to run in the Junior World Championships. With PUMA’s support my goal is to continue breaking records and become the next rising star of South African track and field.”
200m and 400m athlete, Robinn Thorburn (Nigel, Gauteng) from Die Hoërskool Menlopark is proud to represent the PUMA brand. “I want to inspire other young athletes to never give up and reach their goals. The PUMA School of Speed is like no other track and field event in South Africa. I love the spirit and enthusiasm experienced at the Meets and cannot wait to rock my PUMA gear at the 2021 events. My focus will be on improving my times.”
Hoërskool Rob Ferreira’s Vuyo Ndhlovu (Thulamahashe, Mpumalanga) believes that PUMA is the best brand. “I love their slogan ‘Forever Faster’ because it motivates me to be confident, brave and joyful at the same time. The PUMA School of Speed gives athletes from around the country a platform to display their talent and the opportunity to go up against the best. Being chosen as a PUMA ambassador means the world to me. I have always dreamt of being like Usain Bolt, now it feels like I am one step closer.”
Breyten Connoway (Pretoria) is a 100m and 200m rising star from Hoërskool Waterkloof. According to Connoway, PUMA is a brand that you can trust to perform. “PUMA is always updating its range to keep on track with the latest technology. By hosting the PUMA School of Speed, PUMA gives young athletes the opportunity to showcase their talent and in doing so helps with the development of the sport. PUMA also supports our professional athletes which I think is great. It shows that they believe in the future of our athletic stars. I am excited to be working with PUMA towards maximizing my true potential. It is a dream come true.”
What is the PUMA School of Speed: Launched in 2016 and Headed by the World’s Fastest Man, Usain Bolt, the PUMA School of Speed Series is committed to the development of athletics talent in South Africa by identifying exceptional young South African athletes who believe that their future is #ForeverFaster.
In addition to representing the brand, the six PUMA contract winners, aka Future Stars, will have access to PUMA’s elite running ambassadors who will offer guidance on and off the track.
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