Toinee powers to world champs

Just 10 months after joining a gym, an East London woman has been crowned South Africa’s national powerlifting champion.

POWER PACKAGE: EL’s Toinee Botha, who recently won gold at the national weight-lifting championships in Pretoria Picture: SUPPLIED

Toinee Botha will now represent the nation at the world champs in Prague in the Czech Republic in September.

She won the champs for the 56kg category in Pretoria recently and was crowned as the deadlift world record holder in her weight.

The department of economic development information systems assistant director joined the gym with the same objective as many people – to lose some weight.

“I started working with my coach, David Cross, in September last year.

“I was overweight and I needed to make a change in my life.

“He customised a programme for me that focused on strength training and we followed flexible dieting principles,” she said.

The 40-year-old athlete entered her first competition, Raise The Bar, hosted by Rhino Powerlifting Club (RPC), a qualifier for the nationals held in Durban in April.

“I went to Durban not knowing much about the sport except for the basics and the rules.

“Our goal was to learn and experience what it’s like at competition level,” she recalled.

After she qualified for the nationals at the RPC event she had 11 weeks to prepare.

“We [she and her coach] worked our butts off five to six days a week in the gym, pushing the weights and making sure our nutrition was on point,” she said.

Botha went to the nationals not knowing what to expect.

“It was very nerve-wracking since this was only my second competition.”

She said her team plans to smash all three current world records in the masters’ 52kg category.

Botha and teammate Billy Mollentze, who also qualified for the world champs, will need a minimum of R30000 each to fund their trips to Prague.

“We hope we can get some sponsors to assist us in realising our dreams to go to world champs and bring back some gold for the Eastern Cape,” she said.

Botha said she hoped to inspire other people to live their lives to the fullest.

“I have changed my life with the help of my coach in a matter of about nine months. I’m in the best shape of my life and stronger than I’ve ever been,” she said.

Cross said he noticed Botha’s love for the sport and pushed her hard.

“She came to me initially just to lose some weight and get a bit stronger.

“We soon found that she had a natural passion for the strength training and really began to push things more in that direction,” he said.

He said Botha not only smashed her old personal bests but also qualified for world champs in Prague and broke the deadlift world record for her weight and age category, at less than 16 weeks into the sport.

“Toinee is a natural talent, dedicated, hardworking and a real asset to her team,” he said.

To make a contribution towards their trip you can e-mail toinee.botha@gmail.com or follow her and her team on Instagram.

Their handles are @iamtoinee, David Cross is @the_foodboss and Billy Mollentze is @billy_mollentze.

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