Stellenbosch University (SU) alumnus Keenan Horne, 29, is the Vice-Captain of the South African men's hockey team at the 2021 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan. During the Olympic Games, Horne will play as a striker and take on an important leadership role which will require him to manage part of the team's duties.
Horne graduated with a BCom Law degree in 2014 and also completed a LLB and LLM at SU. He eventually started working as a candidate attorney at Mostert and Bosman. For the duration of his studies at SU, he competed as a high-performance field hockey player for Maties.
“I was the first in my family to study at Stellenbosch University. So given that privilege, I wanted to make my family proud by performing well academically and excelling in sport. Because I believe that my academics and sports complement each other, there was no time to relax. I am a structured person by nature and by planning and managing my time effectively I was able to find the right balance," explains Horne.
He finds motivation from the experiences of his family and aspires to make them proud given their sacrifices and dedication to his education.
“When I had the opportunity to do my BCom Law degree it was a chance to break the hold that generational disadvantages had had on my parents. Through their commitment to give me a quality education, I was able to excel on all levels."
Among Horne's accomplishments was that he graduated cum laude at SU this year. In 2018 Horne participated in the Commonwealth Games in Australia and received the Rector's Award for Sporting Excellence.
“While at university we had 6am gym sessions and directly after that I would attend lectures. In my first year I had 11 subjects, so I was always busy. Having a structured mindset was important in balancing those responsibilities but since I enjoyed both hockey and academics it wasn't overwhelming," he says.
He acknowledges that he had to work hard consistently and make necessary sacrifices to make the national team. The road to being selected for the national team and by extension the Olympics was rather unconventional for Horne. However, through diligence he made the national team despite playing for the Western Province B team.
“I made the national under 21 men's hockey team and we competed at the Junior World Cup in India. In the following year I made the Western Province B team. However, in 2014 I made the national team because I played well for the Western Province B team. Despite my youth, determination and a sense of purpose got me a place on the national team."
Youth empowerment is especially important to Horne and he has therefore started a sporting initiative in the Kraaifontein community to empower the next generation. He encourages students and student athletes to appreciate their unique abilities and says that talent can never be a substitute for hard work.
“My advice to fellow Matie student athletes and students in general is to always maximise what you have. Don't focus on what others have and measure yourself against that standard but utilise your skills to the best of your ability. The most important thing is to have a sense of purpose in life, because motivation and ambitions come from what you believe your purpose is. With a clear purpose, you can achieve anything."