Top South African long jumper Lynique Prinsloo had to battle more than just the qualifying criteria to make her Olympic dream come true.
Having suffered chronic back pain for three years, the road to her best form and, ultimately, selection for the Rio Olympics team, was a long and winding one.
“It took me seven years to be where I’m today. It doesn’t just happen overnight,” said the 25-year-old who grew up in Springs.
“One must never be discouraged. Every setback requires a comeback and one must make sure it’s a good one.”
The University of Johannesburg education student, who has competed for the national team at world and continental level since 2008, said Rio would undoubtedly be the highlight of her career.
“My lifetime goal and dream came true. I had to sacrifice so much to be selected for this team, but it made giving up all these things worth it.”
Prinsloo, who divides her time between Joburg and Pretoria, said she believed she had a good chance of achieving the Olympic benchmark of 6.70m after teaming up with UJ coach Emmarie Fouche this year.
She did so in dramatic fashion when she leapt to a season’s best of 6.78m on her last attempt at the SA Student Champs in May. Her next goal was now to make the final where she said anything could happen.
Prinsloo, who has a PB of 6.81m, admitted that being a student-athlete was not easy. Luckily for her, she said, the university supported both her academic and sporting ambitions.
“Being in contact with your lecturers does help a lot, especially when I’m overseas,” said Prinsloo, who is majoring in physical education and psychology.
Her faith has also stood her in good stead as she sets about meeting her challenges head-on.
“God gave me this wonderful ability to jump and, when I do, I feel his presence.”