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Thu Apr 17 12:13:35 SAST 2014

Penny's advice for Olympic hopefuls

SBU MJIKELISO | 11 July, 2012 06:390 Comments
Penny Heyns set 14 world records in her time

ATLANTA Games double gold and Sydney bronze medallist Penny Heyns still has the pragmatic mentality that made her one of the most sensational record- breakers the country has produced.

Her advice to the Team SA for London is to focus on being competitive and not get overwhelmed by the enormity of the occasion.

"Each individual or team going to the Olympics for the first time needs to approach it with the mindset that it's just another competition," she said.

"You are only going to be at your best when you concentrate on doing the things you have control over, to the best of your ability.

"The danger with the Games is you can become a little overwhelmed by the enormity of the event and some of the amazing athletes walking around in the village.

"There is temptation in the village in terms of the unlimited food on offer, meaning a large degree of self-discipline is needed."

Heyns was nothing short of magnificent when she won the 100m and 200m breaststroke gold in Atlanta in 1996, earning her place on the podium of South Africa's finest stars.

She set four world records in 1999 and 14 in total throughout her career.

"Swimming is up and down a black line in one lane - no one can come into your lane and interfere, so keep focus and swim your own race," she advised medal hopefuls.

"They are not going to the Olympics to be spectators but to compete, and when they're done competing there will be time off to enjoy the rest of the event."

Heyns took her winning attitude to the business field, doing corporate speaking after her retirement from the sport more than 10 years ago. In recent years she has applied her winning mentality in her company, which conducts swim clinics for budding talent.

She has high hopes for our swimmers.

"Most swimmers in the team we're sending are already very experienced in international competitions - they have won medals in world championships. So they will know what they need to do to get medals at the Games," she said.

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