After a three-year absence enforced by injury, Nelson Mandela University athlete Kelly Kingwill is determined to capitalise on her potential as she strives to make up for lost time.
Having earned junior and senior national colours, the Bestmed Madibaz triple and long jumper suffered a massive setback when she went through a lengthy period of rehabilitation through various injuries.
The 26-year-old media studies honours student signalled her return to form by winning the national title in the triple jump this year and was recently selected for the university squad to attend the World Student Games in Chinese Taipei this month.
She acknowledged that the time she missed from the athletics arena renewed her hunger to return to top-level competition.
“I am so grateful to be healthy again,” she said. “This period taught me about patience and I learnt how to be content putting in the effort every day, while working towards something bigger that you can’t always see.”
She admitted, however, that doubts remained over her ability to regain the form her potential demanded.
“Three years out of action gives you a lot of time to develop doubts, but it also enabled me to grow my faith,” she said.
“So in some ways I am glad to have gone through all those struggles because I have definitely come out a stronger athlete and person overall.”
Kingwill said several people had supported her during her comeback, including conditioning coach Morne Nagel, mental expert Tim Goodenough and physiotherapist Sophie Chandler.
“Also my mom and coach, Jenny Kingwill, has never doubted me, even when I thought I wouldn’t be able to bridge the gap.
“As a former athlete, she’s unparalleled in her understanding of the sport and makes sure that we always work according to what my needs are.”
Although she has been selected for numerous South African age-group teams, Kingwill has never competed outside of Africa.
“My aim is to be the best athlete I can be on the day,” she said. “Knowing that, I know I will perform confidently and will walk away feeling successful.
“The first focus will, of course, be to make the final and then give it everything I have from there.”