Kiwi Olympic triple jumper getting plenty of support from South Africa

New Zealand triple jumper Ethan Olivier will have a member of the South African team leading his support when he competes at the Paris Olympics.

On hand to help celebrate his Olympic debut will be the 18-year-old’s mother Tracey, who is the athletics team manager for South Africa.

“I think she’s more excited than me and she’s very proud,” Olivier told RNZ.

He was born in Auckland to South African parents before the family returned to the Republic, however, in 2021 he declared himself a New Zealander.

The next year Olivier finished fourth at the World Under-20 Championships in Colombia.

Last month he became the first New Zealander to break the 17 metre mark for the triple jump, which secured his selection for Paris.

He will become the first New Zealand triple jumper to compete at an Olympic Games since Dave Norris at the 1960 Rome Olympics.

While Ethan and his older brother, Welre, were swapping New Zealand senior records between them over the last 18 months, Ethan says there was no rivalry between them.

“We’re very polite about it because we’re family and we both motivate each other.”

In fact it’s very much a family affair, he’s coached by his father Wikus, a former South Africa triple jump record holder and Commonwealth Games representative.

During his prime Wikus competed against the great British triple jumper Jonathan Edwards, the Sydney 2000 Olympic champion, who still holds the world record of 18.29m which he set in 1995.

Ethan Olivier competes in the triple jump during the 2024 National Track & Field Championships in Wellington.

Ethan Olivier was originally a long jumper and sprinter but didn’t find it exciting enough.

“I would always play around with the triple jump after long jump competitions and I enjoyed it more.

“My father’s success in triple jump was also a motivator and I strived to be as good as he was.”

The teenager admits the triple jump is probably not the easiest event he could have picked.

“I like the technical components.

“Maybe alongside the pole vault and the hammer throw, triple jump is one of the most technical events, so I like the challenge of doing an event very few people can do well.

“It’s not the easiest event to train for or to do… its a very high impact event and therefore a lot of recovery time is needed after competing.

“A lot of my training is with exercises to help me avoid getting injured, a lot of conditioning is needed.”

Olivier will head to Europe for pre-Olympic competition when his studies in Potchefstroom finish in mid-June.

He feels his study time has actually helped his preparation as it’s given him more recovery time to get his body in good shape before the games.

“I want to make the final in Paris but at such a young age and with hopefully a few more opportunities ahead, I’m just delighted to be competing.”

He’ll head to the under-20 World Championships again after Paris with a medal firmly on his mind.

According to the news on Radio New Zealand

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