Maties speedster Gardeo Isaacs (20) is not only the reigning South African 400m champion, but also a member of the team that will represent South Africa at the World Student Games in Italy in July.
The second-year BCom Management Accounting student at Stellenbosch University gives credit to the Maties Sport High Performance (HP) programme for his growth as an athlete over the past two years.
Since joining Maties Athletics Gardeo has benefitted from the extensive support Maties High Performance student-athletes receive from the HP Unit.
“Two components of the programme have helped me a lot. The strength and conditioning coaching has made me a better runner, because training is so much more than just running on the track. The sessions with psychologist Eugene Oppelt have also helped me immensely, especially with races away from home," says Gardeo.
The 2019 season has been a great one for Gardeo thus far. He performed well at the Varsity Athletics events and was crowned USSA champion before winning the big title: South African 400m champion with a personal best time of 45.39 seconds.
“I really wanted to win the SA Senior title and getting the title in a personal best time was a massive bonus."
Gardeo represented Team SA at the World Relay Championships in May where South Africa finished 6th. Next up is the World Student Games in Italy.
“I just want to give it my all and enjoy the opportunity. I would also like to achieve a qualifying time so that I can go to the World Championships in Doha. As for any athlete, competing at the Olympic Games is my big goal."
Gardeo grew up in Parow and has been in love with athletics since his days in primary school. “I actually started out as a high jumper, but soon lost interest. Of all the track events the 400m stood out for me. I tried it and it really got a hold of me."
Even before joining Maties, Gardeo trained at Coetzenburg under the watchful eye of his coach Heinrich Fortuin.
“When the opportunity came to come and study at Stellenbosch University, I was so happy. I ran some good times and was offered an opportunity. I did not hesitate. I love the atmosphere here in Stellenbosch and the setup is great."