Naeem Jack of Futures Academy Online High School

Naeem Jack, a 16-year-old grade 11 at Futures Academy has leaped his way to a new national record.

The fleet-footed teen ran away from the field in the men’s Under-18 110m hurdles event at the Athletics South Africa (ASA) Youth and Junior Championships in Pretoria over the weekend. Naeem Jack, who won the gold medal and successfully defended his title, clocked 13.10 seconds, beating the previous record of 13.15 seconds, which was held by Matodzi Ndo from Athletics Gauteng North.

The lanky athlete also bagged a gold medal in the men’s U18 100m sprint at the same competition.

He was among 65 athletes who represented Western Province Athletics (WPA) at the national competition.

WPA finished with a total of 16 medals, including eight gold, four silver and four bronze.

Naeem, a member of Elite Athletes, says he feels honoured to have won two gold medals.

Naeem says: “It was tough to run the 100m sprints and 110m hurdles events as it was the first time doing the short sprints (at nationals). I went with the mindset of enjoying myself and not to be upset if I didn’t win, however, God had other plans for me.”

He says there is a huge difference running against the best in SA, compared to school competitions and club meets.

“There is so much tension especially if you have a rivalry with another athlete. However, it shouldn’t be something that makes you scared, it should be something that drives you forward and makes you more
confident,” says Naeem, who has competed at national level since primary school. 

His long-term goal is to become a World and Olympic champion, but for now he will be focusing on the ASA Senior National Championships in Pietermaritzburg next month.

Naeem adds: “I won’t be competing in the hurdles event, but rather focusing on sprints.”

Naeem Jack of Futures Academy Online High School

His coach and founder of Elite Athletes, Paul Jacobus, says Naeem has come on in leaps and bounds.

Paul says: “No words can describe his performances at the national championships after bringing home two gold medals. However, there’s always room for improvement. This includes working on his 100m sprint times.”

Proud mom Kim Carr believes her son has a bright future ahead.

Kim says: “It has been the greatest honour watching him grow. All his decisions have been his own. We support him, but this journey is his. With Naeem being a teenager, we are grateful that he is still as enthusiastic as he was when he was a little boy.”

“Online schooling has undeniably bolstered my sporting endeavors. With its flexibility, I now have ample time to dedicate to training. Additionally, the understanding nature of my teachers proves invaluable, as the school accommodates my occasional absences from classes due to my athletic commitments,” adds Naeem.

This article orginally appreared in the Daily Voice.