Don't let nobody tell you otherwise
Updated: Jan 21, 2019
Read Rivaldo Roberts, one of South Africa's leading 400m Hurdles athlete's story.
110M Youth and Junior Champion
African Junior Bronze
Third Fastest Time for any Junior in South Africa in 2015
I was a normal kid. Did sport when I was little, and I remember watching a program on SABC 3 that compared athletes to animals. Llewellyn Herbert was one of the athletes that they compared. I instantly fell in love with athletics and more specifically hurdles.
Never ran super fast, but I've always had the dream. I was going to make a team and no one was going to tell me otherwise.
Well, a lot of people told me otherwise. They said I will never make the team. MAYBE I will make the high school team, but if I make it, I will bench. Don't do track. "You're not good enough." "You're not strong enough." "You're not fast enough." I've heard it all!
I kept my head down and just kept grinding. I told my aunt. Listen: "I am going to Ukraine and no one is stopping me!!"
My times didn't show and it was the qualifying year. On top of it allI, I had a back injury and couldn't run properly. One day the school got angry at me because of it and I just unleashed something I never even knew I had. After that I couldn't stopped. A burning feeling to prove people wrong. In only a month, I dropped my times with 1.4 sec. In a short sprint - THAT IS A LOT! Later I won national youth championships with a qualifying time for the world youths. I did it. I thought I proved them all wrong
I finished 27th at the championships and prior to writing my story, I haven't mentioned it to anyone. A week before the champs I tore my hamstring. I couldn't even walk properly let alone run!
After world youths, I dropped my PB another 0.2 sec. I decided work for the following year and set my sights on Eugene to compete at the world juniors. I worked so hard. I was the favorite going into nationals, but I was running against the South African record holder. It was always going to be a tight race and I expected it. He dipped me at the end giving me silver and a new personal best. But missed junior qualification by 0.01 sec.
I was devastated.
But life goes on. That year I got selected for the Region V Games in Zimbabwe and placed 1st. A few months later I made the African junior team. Finally, the frustration paid off. Little did I know more frustration was coming my way. I pulled my hamstring before African champs, but I still ran a PB.
I knew I was in good the shape when African champs came. I went into the race as favourite to medal. I cruised through the heats in the second fastest time run by a junior in South Africa. My mind started to shift toward the South African Record. I knew I was only 0.15 from it. Our team managed a bronze in the 4x100 relay and had the medal ceremony just before my race. I rushed to the call room and didn't get to warm up. The wind was intense and it was blowing against us. It was recorded at 3.4m/s. I had a great start in that race but unfortunately, but I panicked and lost focus. It cost me gold and I had to settle for bronze.
Height started to play a role. I made the decision to switch events and I started with the 400H. The first offseason was horrible. Every day was painful and hard at the beginning. I suffered, but as time went on I improved so much and I will keep on improving. Every day there's a new challenge, but I believe strongly in my team and with their support I know I can reach the top of the ranks again.