South Africa has some of the best field athletes in the world. Unfortunately, there is a shortage of suitably qualified coaches to teach them the correct technique from primary school level.
It was this shortcoming that Pierre Blignaut, a former National Masters Athlete himself, identified more than 13 years ago. Pierre, motivated by what he saw, made an intense study of the rotational technique for shot put and discus and started coaching again after a long leap of absence in 1993.
Orazio Cremona (the current SA Senior Shot put Champion) was coached by Pierre during that time and came 7th at the World Indoor Championships. Currently, Jaco Engelbrecht the reigning African Senior Continental Champion in the shot put that also represented South Africa at the previous World Senior Championships, the World Indoor Championships and 3 World Student Championships where he finished 7th, 4th and 6th respectively is still being coached by Pierre.
Pierre has also coached athletes from various top secondary schools that include Hoërskool Monument, Hoërskool Florida, KES, Helpmekaar College, Hoërskool Noordheuwel, Die Hoërskool Menlopark.
In 2011, together with Eben Vermaas (served on the Gauteng Schools Executive Committee for Athletics as Development Officer and also various other boards) launched the Pierre Blignaut Shot Put and Discus Academy. The goal of the Academy was to serve South African Athletics by identifying talented athletes and coaches, develop identified athletes and coaches into athletes that can compete at international events and to manage athletes and coaches effectively through the procurement of bursaries at tertiary institutions for athletes and coaching positions for coaches.
The Academy has since produced 16 athletes that made various National teams that represented South Africa at meetings all over the globe. The Academy has won more than 250 national medals at various meetings that included the SA Primary Schools Championships, the SA Secondary Schools Championships, the SA Junior and Senior Championships and the SA Open Championships.
The Academy has also won various International medals that included medals from the Southern Regional Championships, the African Youth Championships, African Junior Championships, the African Senior Championships, the Commonwealth Youth Games, the World Youth Championships, the World Junior Championships and the World Student Games. In 2015, Werner Visser was crowned World Youth Champion and Commonwealth Youth Champion and was also awarded a prize from Ashton Eaton of the IAAF as one of the 5 best athletes of the Championships, while 5 athletes participated at the African Junior Championships and brought back 3 gold and 1 silver medal.
During 2016, the Academy accomplished the following achievements:
· 35 National & International medals of which 17 were gold.
· 2 (Kayle Blignaut and Morne Brandon) athletes and one coach (Eben Vermaas) represented National teams
· Kayle broke the SA Schools u/18 record with a distance of 20.43m. He was the first athlete ever to throw over 20m at a National Schools Championship. Later that year, he improved on his performance with a massive heave of 20.73m at a provincial meeting that was held in the Paarl.
In 2017 Dane Roets, also an Academy athlete broke the SA U/15 shot put record unofficially on 3 occasions with a personal best of 15.70m thus far. A distance that currently place her 4th on the u/18 IAAF ranking, while another Academy athlete, Meike Strydom also broke the u/17 SA Record with a distance of 17.55m that was previously held by Academy athlete, Lezaan Jordaan (17.51m). Morne Brandon is presently ranked nr 1 on the IAAF u/18 rankings for his best heave of 63.91m earlier this season. As an u/15 athlete, he achieved 3 consecutive throws over 68m at a meetining in Pretoria with the best distance of 68.51m.The Academy hopes that it will this year produce a second World Youth Champion in succession with the discus at the World Youth Championships in Kenia. This year, a huge medal tally is expected again at the various National Championships.
The Academy also hosts an annual Coaching Clinic for coaches and athletes that in the past was attended by more than 160 individuals. Some athletes that attended these clinics also won medals at National Championships.
Pierre accompanied the following National teams as throw coach:
2012 SA Senior Team to World Student Games, Kazan Russia
2013 SA Senior Team to World Indoor Championships, Sopot Poland
2014 SA Youth Team to African Youth Olympics, Gabarone Botswana
2014 SA Youth Team to World Youth Olympics, Nanjing China
2015 SA Junior Team to World Youth Championships, Cali, Columbia
2015 SA Senior Team to African Games, Brazaville Congo
2015 SA Junior Team to World Junior Championships, Bydgoszc Poland
Eben was part of the following teams:
2011 – 2013 Gauteng Team Manager to SA Athletic Championships
2012 – 2013 General Manager of Gauteng team to SA Athletic Championships & SA Games
2012 – 2014 Served on the Gauteng Provincial Executive Committee of Athletics
2014 CGA Coach to SA Junior Athletic Championships
2016 SA Youth Team to Region 5 Games, Luanda Angola
2017 CGA Coach to SA Junior Championships, Cape Town
Academy athletes that represented South Africa at various International meetings since 2005:
· Orazio Cremona
· Dean Wattrus
· Johnny Botha
· Jaco Engelbrecht
· Dewald van Heerden
· Geraldine Duvenage
· Lezaan Jordaan
· Johan Scholtz
· Wanzel Breytenbach
· Leandri Geel
· Ashley Nieuwenhuyzen
· Werner Visser
· Patrick Duvenage
· Monique Wagner
· Kayle Blignaut
· Morne Brandon
From the article above it is certain that the Pierre Blignaut Shot Put and Discus Academy has played a significant part in the development of talented youngsters and that the there is no need for athletes to leave our shores to find quality coaches abroad. It is also evident that there is a bright future ahead in the field events of South Africa and that this Academy can be considered as one of the Best on the continent!