Simba’s sprinting sis seeks success
Late Top Billing presenter Simba Mhere’s little sister Valerie is ready to make her mark in the world of athletics. The 21-year-old is living in London and pursuing her dreams of becoming a 100m and 200m sprinter.
“I needed to get out of my comfort zone, so I decided to move to London in September to train with a club called Speedworks,” she says.
It hasn’t been an easy ride for Valerie as she was hoping to continue her training in the US. However, things didn’t work out. “I went searching and ended up finding this club in London,” Valerie says. It was simply by chance that she ended up in London. “I accidentally found a post on Instagram of a girl doing blocs starts and she had tagged Speedworks in the post. I found their website and decided to contact them,” she says.
All it took was a simple email and, within four days, the Lee Valley Athletics Centre said it would love her to come and train there. But Valerie had to make big sacrifices for this opportunity to happen.
“I sold my car and, five weeks later, I moved to London to come and make the dream a reality,” she says.
There’s no doubt that Simba would’ve been happy to see his little sister follow her dreams. “He’d be proud I’m here pursuing it wholeheartedly,” Valerie says. “Simba loved athletics and had always dreamt of being a professional athlete. He didn’t pursue it further, but always motivated me to,” she says.
Simba was always by Valerie’s side, supporting her along the way.
“I think that, in some ways, he tried to live through me. But I didn’t mind. He bought me every pair of spikes I ever owned and would cancel work to come and watch me compete,” Valerie says.
“He was the equivalent of a ‘stage mum’, so I’d have to calm him down sometimes. But it was all love. I miss that a lot. I was so used to having him there, so it’s been a quite an adjustment to do things on my own,” she says.
When she was very young, Valerie realised that this was the kind of career she would like to pursue.
“I was six years old when I realised I was really good at being a sprinter, but I also realised early on that it got me a lot of attention and friends,” she says.
On September 15, Valerie finally got the opportunity to pack up her bags and go to London.
“We have great support here – there are strength and conditioning coaches and therapists who are available to us all through our sessions. The environment is positive and everyone here works hard,” she says.
“I’m in the middle of winter training, so we train five days a week from 9am until 2pm on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday,” she says.
The athletes at the club also follow a very strict diet. “I’m currently working on dropping weight. I eat often, but very healthily. For example, a lot of fish, chicken and vegetables,” says Valerie.
She lives in Woodford Green in the east with two other athletes from the Netherlands and Norway, who help to motivate her at the club.
“I plan on staying here for a year if finances allow me, and committing the year to training. The plan is to come back and make the South African team and hopefully compete at the Commonwealth Games in 2018,” Valerie says.
The next step would be the Olympic Games in 2020.
TALK TO US Have you ever made sacrifices to follow your dreams? What was the outcome?
SMS us on 35697 using the keyword DREAMS. SMSes cost R1.50
Valerie and her late brother Simba Mhere