Steenekamp, South Africa’s next star hurdler
Loujie Steenekamp on far left, competing at AGN league at Tuks Bestmed Stadium. Photo by R. Caldecott.
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Born and bred in Ellisras, a coal mining town in Limpopo, Loutjie Steenekamp has been flying under the radar of the South African men’s 400m hurdle scene for a while now, but his Olympic dream is what drives him, and that’s why you should be on the lookout for his name in the near future.
Petrus ‘Loutjie’ Steenekamp was a grade 4 schoolkid when his dream of competing at the Olympic Games was ignited at Ellisras Primary School. Says Petrus, ‘I started doing athletics in primary school, and when I was in grade 1 I started dreaming of going to the Olympics.’ But the hurdle-running bug only bit three years later. ‘I did my first hurdles race in grade 4 on the school’s track and after that I was hooked,’ says Steenekamp. ‘I was born in Ellisras, went to Ellisras Primary School, and I attended Ellisras High School where I was the head prefect.’ With the hope of his hometown on his shoulders, he improved systematically throughout primary school, but when he met Coach Jan Vos in grade 9, the pace at which he improved went through the roof. Fast forward three years to 2017 and he comes a step closer to achieving his dream by winning the u/20 South African 400m hurdles title. That led to his inclusion in Athletics South Africa’s team that represented the rainbow nation at the Confederation Africa Athletics (CAA) Under 20 Championships in Algeria in July last year. ‘I won SA champs in my matric year, and when I got into university- University of Pretoria- at the beginning of the year, I still kept chasing my dream,’ added the hurdler with passion.
With Sokwakhana Zazini, the world u/18 400mh champion, making his debut on the under 20 circuit this season, the former head prefect narrowly missed out on retaining his national title- he took the silver- but, he ran a new personal best of 50.58 seconds. ‘My short term goals are to win the world u/20 title (in Finland in July), win a medal at national senior champs next year, make the world student championships team, and compete in the Diamond League,’ said Steenekamp. Surely your dreams won’t seem farfetched if you are surrounded by great people on a daily at Tuks’ High Performance Centre. Working under the watchful eye of Tuks HP Coach Nico van Heerden and training alongside the likes of Lindsay Hanekom (SA 400mh champion 2018) appears to have done the trick because Steenekamp is hungrier now than ever before.
His faith and the mentors are what keeps him driven. ‘There is only one thing that lights up a flame inside of me, and that is God. Every day I want to shine my light so people can talk about and experience the love of God.’ He further added, ‘My home-cell leaders Benee and Daniel Nel, and my coach, also keeps me driven.’
LJ van Zyl changed the face of the men’s 400m hurdles in South Africa this past 23 years, so now his shoes need filling, and Petrus Loutjie Steenekamp might just be that guy.
Written by Reggie Hufkie