Young lifesaver shines for SA team with flags win overseas
Nelson Mandela Bay’s Runaldo Pedro, 17, hopes to cement his place in the South African surf-lifesaving team after placing first in his speciality beach flags event overseas earlier this month.
The young star from Hillside was part of a 12-member junior South African team competing at the International Surf Rescue Challenge in New Zealand from November 30 to December 3.
Runaldo’s win also helped the team secure third place overall, behind winners Australia and second-placed New Zealand.
Arriving home yesterday, he said he had felt an overwhelming sense of relief as he gazed at the final flag in his hand after the last showdown.
“I was grateful just getting the chance to represent South Africa, so this is really special for me, but the glory has to be given to God. He is the reason everything happened the way it did,” he said.
The competition was divided into three tests, and he had to complete in all three to claim the gold.
He proved his mettle by remaining unbeaten en route to the top spot.
Having had his first taste of national team competition, the Grade 11 Grey High pupil now hopes to secure his place in the final squad to attend the world championships in Adelaide next year. “What an honour it was to represent South Africa, and hopefully this will not be the last time I get to be part of such a great team,” he said.
Runaldo, who became nipper at the tender age of nine, said he had been introduced to surf-lifesaving by a friend, Jamie Riddle.
“His family introduced me to and encouraged me to start the sport, and it has been a huge part of my life ever since,” he said.
“It’s a passion of mine because it’s not easy. It’s very competitive and a lot of fun.”
While he specialises in the beach flags event, he also competed in the beach sprints at the challenge.
He has obtained both provincial and national colours in the discipline as well as bagging the national beach flags title on several occasions.
The son of former Eastern Province star winger Henry Pedro, Runaldo dreams of becoming a professional rugby player in future and said he was working hard to make that a reality.
He said the support of his family and friends had been paramount to his success.
“They’ve played a big part in my career and this would not be possible without them.”
National surf-lifesaving junior coach Claudio Miller was impressed with the team’s overall performance, and said beach flag competitors across the country now knew who Runaldo was.
“I am very happy with his conditioning. He performed very well, considering that he also participated in the beach sprints, and tube rescue for boys.”
Regarding the preparation for worlds next year, Miller said the competition for places in the team would be tough, but he expected all athletes to bring their best to the table.
Miller said the team for the world championships would be selected after the Lifesaving SA 2018 National Surf and Stillwater Champs in Port Elizabeth in April.