Photo by: Keagan Mitchell
“Dedication, hard work and time management plays an important role in the success of an athlete,” says Coach Eugene
Meet Bellville Athletics Club’s Eugene Atkins who is a former athlete of the club and a role model to the athletes he coaches in Mitchell’s Plain.
Eugene from Mitchell’s has been with the club since he was a youngster and he was a prominent athlete around the turn of the century.
During this period the former Bellville South resident took part in a number of WC schools’ and Western Province Athletics youth and junior competitions.
One of his fondest memories was when he finished third in the boys’ under-19 400m sprints, clocking 47.03 seconds, at the SA schools’ championships, in Durban, in 2000. A few months later (May 2000) he went on to represent South Africa in the Confederation of school sports Southern Africa Zone 6 championships where he finished in sixth place in the boys’ under-19 400m sprints, at the Bellville Athletics Stadium, in Cape Town.
As a school/club athlete Eugene frequently competed against top athletes like Paul Gorries and Marcus la Grange, both of whom competed and represented South Africa internationally.
As a youngster Eugene was a fan of American sprinter Carl Lewis who dominated sprinting during the 1980’s and early 1990’s. Carl who specialised in the 100m, 200m, long jump and 4x100m relay events competed at the Olympic Games in 1984,1988, 1992 and 1996. During that period, he won a total of nine gold and one silver medal. He also competed at the 1983, 1987, 1991 and 1993 IAAF World Championships where he won a total of 10 medals that included eight gold and one silver and bronze.
Eugene stopped running in 2010 after a foot injury persisted.
“I never lost the hunger for the sport but the pain I had to deal with was too much for me,” said Eugene who got into coaching three years later after he was asked by Wendy James, a teacher at Eastville Primary School, Mitchell’s Plain to coach one of her athletes.
“She showed me videos of the athlete and I could see he has potential but needed to be natured. I then decided to give it a go and never I haven’t looked back since,” he said.
Eugene who received his ASA level 2 coaching certificate in June 2018 has produced a number of athletes that represented the Western Cape Schools’ and WPA athletics teams at the SA schools’ and ASA junior championships. They include Jody Rose who came third in the boys’ under-15 400m heats, clocking 52.57seconds, at the SA Schools’ Championships, in Potchefstroom, in the North-West Province, in March 2018. Jody also finished first and second in the boys’ under-16 100m and 200m sprints at the WPA junior championships, in Parow, earlier this year. Eugene also coaches Muneer Dirks who finished fourth in the boys’ under-16 100m and 200m semi-finals, clocking 10.99 and 22.40 seconds, at the ASA sub-youth championships, in Bloemfontein, in 2015.
“It is a great to see how athletes develop over the years, especially when you start coaching them from a young age. Listening to instructions, dedication and time management also plays an important role,” he said.
Eugene who specializes in sprints and hurdles is a satellite coach for Bellville Athletics Club who serves the community of Mitchell’s Plain. He currently coaches 15 athletes 5 days a week at Westridge Gardens, Morgenster Road, Westridge.
Eugene who is married to his wife Judy for five years says he will always encourage youngsters to join the club and to go for their dreams.
“I tell my athletes that they need to set their own goals. The road to success is a long one but we need to stay focussed together because we are a team. My success is based on the performances of my athletes, and it shows that my training program works,” he said.
Athletes of all ages who are interested in being coached by Eugene in track and field, are invited to contact him via email firstname.lastname@example.org or cell phone (078 703 3187).
Story by: Keagan Mitchell