Pretorius second SA decathlete to score 8000 points
Broken ribs, a fractured coccyx, bruised foot ligaments and undergoing two elbow operations were just a few things Fredriech Pretorius (TuksAthletics) had to overcome to become the only second South African decathlon athlete to score more than 8000 points in a competition.
Over the weekend Pretorius scored 8002 points in the decathlon at the Gauteng-North Championships held at TuksAthletics Stadium.
While still battling to gain back his breath after his do or die sprint to the line over the last hundred metres of the 1 500 metres Pretorius apologised for just getting two points past the magical 8000 barrier. A fan immediately reminded him that there is no remarks column in sport. The only thing that mattered was that he had scored 8000. When Pretorius heard the news he began to breath easily and a smile spread across his face.
“To finally score 8000 points is an unbelievable experience. It was certainly not easy and nobody should ever claim that it is. I am grateful to so many people for the support that they have given me over the last three years. First and foremost I want to thank all the coaches that helped me and encouraged me to never give up on my dream. And then there is my mom who is arguably my biggest fan,” said Pretorius whose best score before this weekend’s competition was 7763 points.
Pretorius got to 8002 points by sprinting, jumping, throwing and running: 10.74s in the 100m; 7.39m in the long jump; 13.30m in the shotput; 1.96m in the high jump; 49.98s in the 400m; 14.61s in the 110m-hurdles; 41.26m in the discus; 4.60m in the pole vault; 61.39m in the javelin; 4:26.15 in the 1 500m. He set personal best in the 100m, long jump and javelin.
Only the African and South African record holder, Willem Coertzen, with 8398 points has achieved a higher score than Pretorius.
It was mostly his pole vault exploits that led to Pretorius spending more time in numerous doctors’ consulting rooms than he would have preferred. One of his worst experiences happened at the South African Open Championships in Potchefstroom in 2015 where his pole broke just as he planted it to launch himself into the air. A part of the broken pole slapped into his body and bruised his ribs.
Things did not get any better. Last year in January while training at Tuks he fractured his coccyx while vaulting. He also had to undergo two elbow operations. Pretorius admits that these setbacks forced him think long and hard as to why he keeps on punishing himself. But the determination to get to 8000 points kept him going.
He ascribes his success to the fact that started to follow a proper gym program for the first time.
“I can already feel the difference and I am looking forward to see what will happen if I can keep at it. I think the fact that I lost nearly six kilograms so far this year has also helped me to perform at a higher level.
“The one thing I do need to work on is the 400 metres and the 1 500 metres. I don’t want to end up laying on the track for twenty minutes after I have finished racing the 1 500 metres because I don’t have any energy to get up.”
According to Pretorius his girlfriend, Chene Coetzee, helps him to keep pushing the boundaries.
“She is a talented hammer thrower. This actually means we have a strange relationship. We don’t talk or argue about things normal couples do. Instead we are constantly debating about whose technique is the best or who is doing the real training.”