Running On Air!
Sports presenter Vaylen Kirtley is changing the system from within.
Morning Live sports presenter and producer Vaylen Kirtley isn’t intimidated by working in a historically maledominated industry. Far from it; the 32-yearold from Cape Town has proved she belongs there. From her early beginnings at Topsport’s Sportsbuzz, she now co-hosts SABC 2’s The Ladies Club, where she advocates for gender equality in sport by giving South Africa’s gamechanging women runners the opportunity to share their stories.
I was still in high school when I began working for the junior sports programme Sportsbuzz. Later, I worked alongside South Africa’s first black female sports presenter, Cynthia Tshaka, who inspired me to pursue a career in broadcasting.
‘Women in sport’ is a phrase that means bravery, excellence and passion. I have undoubtedly been inspired by every woman runner I’ve interviewed, from Zola BuddPieterse to Caster Semenya, and from Blanche Moila to Gerda Steyn.
We need a new normal, regardless of what we’ve been told in the past. If we harp on about the challenges we face as women working in maledominated industries, then we can’t expect it to become natural and normal that we play in these spaces in society. To truly empower ourselves, we need to act like no space is exclusive to one gender.
I’d like to think I’ve inspired other
women, by bringing something positive to sports broadcasting. If anything, I’ve tried to bring the best of myself.
Without my mom’s support, I wouldn’t have achieved half of what I have. She helps me make the most of the opportunities I’m given.
No area of my life is untouched
by the fact that I’m a mom. Every decision I make is in consideration of my daughter, Tehya, who is my source of inspiration and motivation. We grow up thinking our parents will be the ones who will teach us all we’ll know. But when you become a parent yourself, you realise how much learning you still have left to do. You get to live life again; only this time, through the eyes of a child. You learn so much about a young, developing human being – and also more about yourself.
What makes me happy is sharing a laugh with my loved ones. They’re a small group of people, but they mean the world to me.
I want to make the most of life:
to discover, grow and leave the important people in my life with positive, wonderful memories. I think we should all strive for our ideal.
I consider running to be one of my
best friends, because it has been a mainstay in my life since primary school. It makes me feel noticeably happier.
Running has taught me to keep moving. When things are tough, put a smile on your face and focus on putting one foot in front of the other. When it’s easy, enjoy the scenery. Those are valuable life lessons.
The beauty of running is that you can do it anywhere. I take my takkies with me on all of my work trips.
My go-to pre-run fuel is a banana. Post-run, I enjoy peanut butter; either spread on a sandwich, or straight from the spoon.
I’m training for the Two Oceans Trail Run (24km). I ran the 2018 Cape Town Marathon 12km Peace Trail Run, which was absolutely stunning. I came fifth, but I also discovered I need to do more technical training in the mountains, so that my body will be better equipped to handle downhill sections.
TO TRULY EMPOWER OURSELVES, WE NEED TO ACT LIKE NO SPACE IS EXCLUSIVE TO ONE GENDER.
& right bottomleft: She’s an avid runner who describes the Cape Town Marathon 12km Peace Trail as “absolutely stunning”.
top left:Commentating on the 2016 Comrades with former SABC head of TV Sport Keletso Totlhanyo and Bruce Fordyce (wearing an ‘Ultimate Human Race’ makarapa!).
left: Vaylen Kirtley is successful in a maledominated industry because she’s made the most of every opportunity she’s been given.