He might only be 1.72m tall but when the South African schools’ and Athletics SA youth champion Breyton Poole,17, takes to the track and field arena, he clears the high jump bar like a boss.
Breyton, a full head shorter than his opponents, leaped to a personal best of 2.24m, to claim the gold medal, in the boys’ under-18 high jump event, at the world youth championships, in Nairobi, in Kenya, on Saturday.
The youngster, who clinched his personal best by six centimetres, was 10cm clear from silver medallist Chima Ihenetu from Germany, while third place Vladyslav Lavskyy from the Ukraine could only master 2.11m.
However, it was all about Breyton, who had already secured the title in the sixth round with a jump of 2.16m.
He kept the crowd on their feet by attempting four more heights. He succeeded 2.20m with his second attempt, 2.22m with his first jump and 2.24m with his third.
Breyton’s winning height of 2.24m was one centimetre short of the African and South African youth record of 2.25m set by his countryman Jacques Freitag in 1999.
His remarkable season started back in February where he jumped 2.14m at the Western Province League 1 meet, at the Parow athletics track.
His season just got better from there with consistent performances over 2.15m. He also finished fourth at the ASA senior championships in Potchefstroom earlier this year.
This was South Africa’s best finish at a global athletics competition after they topped the medal standings with five gold, three silver and three bronze.
It was also the first time South Africa did the sprint double at a track and field international competition.
In saying this, the future looks bright for South African athletics.
Many of these athletes will hope to follow in the footsteps of Olympic champions Wayde van Niekerk and Caster Semenya.
Breyton, who lives in Somerset West and is a student at Paul Roos Gymnasium in Stellenbosch, has made the Western Cape schools’ team on five occasions.
Breyton said he could not have asked for a better way to end the season than bringing home the gold medal.
“I surprised myself by jumping a new personal best of 2.24m. Credit should go to my family and my coach, Bennie Schlechder, for supporting me every step on the way.
“The plan was just to enjoy myself and give it my best shot because anything can happen at a major competition. Since I came into the competition with a world lead of 2.18m I needed to prepare myself mentally and physically,” he said.
Breyton said he will be taking a break before he starts his winter programme ahead of the upcoming track and field season that starts in December.
“This has been quite a long season and I deserve a break. My main goal for the upcoming season is to be consistent, to stay fit and qualify for the world junior championships, in Finland,” he said.