PE’s Jessica celebrates her place in Olympic squad

Siyavuya Makubalo

PORT Elizabeth open- water swimming sensation Jessica Roux was yesterday still celebrating her inclusion in the South Africa Olympic team for London.

Roux, 19, was one of the 13 members added to the provisional 112-member South Africa team announced by the SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) early last month.

“I was so shocked when I heard, I am so happy and excited,” Roux said when contacted by The Herald yesterday. “I actually heard after a training session that I had received the nod.”

Roux admitted she had never thought of qualifying for the Olympic Games so early in her life, and was competing in big swimming events only to gain international exposure.

The former Collegiate head girl, who specialises in long-distance swimming, had been nervously waiting to hear whether Sascoc would select her as part of the team to travel to the Games, after she had qualified in June.

Roux spoke about how excited she was about participating in the London event.

She said she had been touched by messages and phone calls she had received from family and friends back home in Port Elizabeth, congratulating her and wishing her well.

She is training in Cape Town with coach Cedric Finch and the South Africa open-water swimming team ahead of the Games.

Though she was excited about the prospect of competing in her first Olympic Games, Roux said the first thought that came to mind after she heard about her inclusion in the South Africa team was the amount of training she would have to do.

“I have to train a lot more now because I will be competing with the best open-water swimmers in the world.”

Roux moved to Durban to pursue her swimming career. She has always had a passion for water sports, having represented both her school and province in water polo and swimming.

She said her achievements were the result of rigorous training. Earlier this year she won her first Spar Redhouse River Mile. She also beat South African golden girl Natalie du Toit in an Olympic qualifier in Setubal Bay, Portugal, last month.

“Every time I win a big race it just means I have to train harder. I can’t afford to relax,” Roux said.

She is looking forward to having the support of her family, who will be travelling to London to support her, as she makes her debut on the world’s greatest sports stage.

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