Cayla Suddon

Cayla Suddon was one athlete who surprised everyone at this year’s National High School Championships by winning the u/18 women’s 200m and 100mh events. Her wins might come as ‘all of a sudden’ and as a surprise too many, but for Cayla and TJAM it was due to happen. I found about Cayla and TJAM coaches and TJAM founders Thobela Thoba and Jessi Heatley, here’s what they had to say:

What is TJAM?

TJ Athlete Management (TJAM) is a high performance coaching agency established in 2012 to provide high performance coaching for track and field athletes who wish to perform at the highest level. The agency is named after its two co-founders and coaches Thobela Thoba (Sprints and Jumps Coach) – a Sports Administrator by trade and Jessi Heatley (Sprints and Hurdles Coach) who is a Biokineticist by trade; hence the “TJ”.

One young woman whose future looks very bright is TJAM and EP track star Cayla Suddon. Cayla’s bubbly, friendly and well-mannered persona is usually being underestimated until she shows athletes in the races that there’s no such thing as a ‘soft approach’ when she races.

Cayla described in five words?

Committed, Driven, Focused, Bubbly and Passionate.

Which of her achievements stand out for you most?

The stand-out performances undoubtedly came in 2015 when she was first included in the SA Junior Squad to travel to Mauritius and although she did not make the final team she went on to win SA Secondary Schools 100mH and 200m as well as the ASA Junior 100mH title

A few years ago she didn’t perform this good, please elaborate on your ‘4 year plan’?

When we started TJAM, we adopted a Long-Term Athlete Development (LTAD) programme which all our athletes go on. Following the principles of LTAD has partly been responsible for Cayla’s success on the track. The programme is centred around/on the athlete, his / her strengths and weaknesses, abilities and potential. We focus on developing the “overall athlete” trusting that this will lead to the athlete achieving their desired results.

‘It’s definitely a team effort starting from her two coaches, then there’s a team effort between the coaches and the parents, the coaches and the athlete and then between the athlete and her training partners. Each person in the group is fully aware of the other’s goals and at each training session they are there to help each athlete achieve their goal. Cayla is also very lucky to have a very supportive medical team behind her. At TJAM we are not just a training group, we are a family’ uttered both coaches.

Another great event complimenting all of these structures is the Friday Night Lights (FNL) athletics series. This series comprises of 5 Track & Field competitions happening during the off-season: 11 September, 25 September, 9 October, 30 October and 4 December. It is a point-based performance competition hosting approximately 36 male and female events and it’s a competitive yet-fun set-up that encourages great performances. For more information, visit: tjathletemanagement.co.za

This whole story of Cayla and TJAM is very inspiring, creating hope for the province and South African athletics. Eastern Province is a province, like your other coastal provinces, that boasts with world class talents and with this team work, support, coaching structures, developments plans and camaraderie, the future looks great!It is exciting times and nothing comes all of a sudden; proper preparation prevents poor performance!

TJAM was established in 2012, but your athletes boast with exceptional performances already. Please fill us in on some TJAM performances:

This year we had 3 primary school athletes competing at the National Primary Schools Champs (Tiaan van Wyk, Clarice Moolman and Kaylen Louw), we had 6 who competed at the National Secondary Schools Champs (Soleil Botha, Cayla Seddon, Megan Snyman, Lara Dippenaar, Maruska Janse van Rensburg and Logan Holmes) and 7 who competed at the ASA Sub-Youth, Youth & Junior Champs (Casper Lötter, Cailin Dugmore, Soleil Botha, Logan Holmes, Cayla Seddon, Maruska Janse van Rensburg and Aidan Tuohy). Altogether we had 13 provincial representatives in the various teams in 2015. It would be difficult to mention all their performances, but other than Cayla’s championship triumphs, Maruska Janse van Rensburg achieved a 7th position in the Junior Women Triple Jump at ASA Champs; Soleil Botha finished 7th in the U/15 girls 100m finals at the National Secondary Schools Champs, she also went on to finish 7th in the finals of the 100m and 200m at the ASA Sub-Youth

Written by Reggie Hufkie