Breyton Poole proves 'short men can jump high too'
SA's champion junior high jumper reckons attitude beats altitude
It's not about how tall you are, it's about the attitude.
This advice may work well on awkward teenage boys and it's equally true when it comes to winning gold in the high jump.
It's what catapulted Western Cape teenager Breyton Poole into the global spotlight when he won the International Association of Athletics Federations under-18 high jump title in Nairobi, Kenya, last weekend.
The Grade 11 pupil at Paul Roos Gymnasium in Stellenbosch improved his previous personal best three times in the competition before he made the 2.24m jump that won him gold.
But it hasn't all been plain sailing.
When Breyton - named after Springbok rugby player Breyton Paulse - was younger, he was mercilessly teased about his height, or lack of it. The average professional high jumper is 1.9m; Breyton is 1.72m.Proud dad Herman said this week that some athletes had underestimated his son. "They always teased him and laughed whenever it was his turn to jump."
But for Breyton, 17, believing and trusting in what you are capable of is a winning remedy.
"I knew I could do it. Not just for me but also to show the world that short men can jump high too," he said.
"Sometimes people would ask me: 'Hey, short man, what can you do?' In all the competitions I always have that motivation of wanting to show them what a short guy can do.
"I think this weekend I proved what I can do to everyone who has ever asked me that question."
His dad, mom Charmaine and brother Hagan were in the stands cheering him on at the event, in which he automatically qualified for the under-20 championships in Finland next year.
Breyton is ranked the fourth-best junior high jumper in the world and is the second South African to win the under-18 title, after Jacques Freitag.
Herman said Breyton had been a sports fanatic since primary school, and excelled at swimming, cricket, gymnastics and rugby, but had to put all other sport on hold last year to prepare for the IAAF junior championships.