Nelson Mandela Bay teen in training to lift more medals
He currently holds seven national records in weightlifting, but Jayden Pretorius is not content with that and is aiming to add a few more to his name in June.
Jayden, 17, will have his first opportunity to better his current records when he takes to the platform at the at the SA Youth and Junior Championships in Durban on June 15.
The Richmond Hill resident delivered a show-stopping performance at the recent Arnold Classic Africa in Johannesburg, where he claimed gold medals in the youth, junior and senior categories, and he now has his sights on more records as his star continues to rise.
Setting new records in the process, Jayden chalked up a 117kg snatch and a 134kg clean and jerk, totalling 251kg, all of which are youth and junior records.
The snatch weight was also a senior record, bettering the one held by another Protea weightlifter, Greg Shushu.
Jayden said he went into the competition high on confidence so breaking the records, for him, was “just a formality”.
“Performances like that don’t come around every day, but I had a clear goal heading into the Arnold’s. So to come back knowing that I was able to execute, I was quite chuffed about that.
“Holding seven national records across three divisions is still a bit unreal, because when I first started this sport, I could never have forecast how well it would treat me. But this is not the end – there is still much more to come,” Pretorius said.
He has also been selected to represent SA at the Commonwealth Junior and Youth Championships in Samoa in July, the third time he puts on national colours after financial constraints put a hold on his African Youth and Junior Championships dream in 2017.
“For this competition I think my mindset won’t change too much from any other competition – I will solely focus on my goals, knowing that if I can execute what I’ve been doing in training, I can definitely reach new heights.
“Competing at national events is good, but I sometimes I feel like I need that extra push, which you get from competing on the international stage.
“I also enjoy going up against lifters who are stronger than me, because it pushes me to boundaries I never knew I had and then past them,” the ECX Dragon athlete said.
Jayden said he had been introduced to the sport about five years ago when his family took up CrossFit as a means of staying fit. The place was the ECX Dragons gym, which had been a CrossFit box at the time.
“I was approached by coach Piet, who suggested I try Olympic weightlifting, a sport I knew very little about then, but I tried it out anyway and I would say that is when my love for the sport took off,” he said.
Jayden took to the competitive platform for the first time in 2016, competing at the SA U14 championships and claiming a gold medal while also scooping the Champion of Champions Trophy for his age category.
He has gone on to compete provincially on numerous occasions, collecting various medals along the way.
In 2018 he represented SA at the Youth Olympic Games, and despite getting only a sixth place, said it was an experience he would never forget.
In the same year he went to the African Youth and Junior Championships, where he claimed three bronze medals, and was one of only two SA lifters to win a medal out of the six athletes selected for the trip.
Jayden, who is in Grade 12 at Springfield Education Centre (US curriculum), said he would like to study further but was not sure which direction to go into as yet.
“I would like to study. For now, weightlifting is my main priority, but I do have dreams of furthering my education, possibly something in the field that deals with the human body and movement.
“But that is still some way off for now,” he added.