Sport

A firm friendship forged through a common love of running

April 30, 2018

By Caroline Layt

One close friendship, is the one UTS Norths sprinters Jackie Bezuidenhout and Kylie Strong have forged through training together in their pursuit of athletic excellence.

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Bezuidenhout is only one year older than Strong, so they are rivals eighty per cent of the time over a five-year-age-group-cycle. The exception is when Bezuidenhout enters a new age group and leaves Strong behind in the younger age group for one year.

Both women are world champions and are coached by 1972 Munich and 1980 Moscow 100 metre Olympic hurdler, Penny Gillies.

Gillies also represented at the 1970 Edinburgh Commonwealth Games.

After retiring from athletics, Gillies has coached many Australian track and field representatives over the years, including Beijing 2008 Olympic 400 metre semi-finalist Joel Milburn. She also coached the national men’s 4 x 400 metre relay team to gold medal success at the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games.

Gillies (pictured) has also passed on her expertise to Bezuidenhout and Strong and their performances have improved over time.

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The fact Bezuidenhout and Strong are older athletes training with open age athletes in Gillies squad, means they spend a considerable amount of time together at their training base at Rotary Athletic Field and they acknowledge how one has aided the other’s development. 

Strong was glowing in her praise of Bezuidenhout, as she told Hatch, “I’ve had a lot of wonderful friendships over the years, but it’s taken me until this time in my life to find my best friend (in Bezuidenhout).

“Jackie’s such a wonderful person; she’s so caring and kind.”

Bezuidenhout gives a glimpse into their training environment as she told Hatch, “We get along so well, Kylie trains so hard and we push each other along.”

Another world champion sprinter in Gianna Mogentale competed against them at the NSW Masters Athletics Championships at Blacktown’s International Sports Centre and this made for one very competitive age group over the 60, 100 and 200 metre sprint races.

Despite their close friendship, both women have a fierce competitive streak with each other and this was borne out on the 200 metre state final. Strong won the race convincingly and looked fresh immediately after the race, whereas Bezuidenhout was quick to analyse what went wrong and were she can improve.

Bezuidenhout turned the tables in the 60 metre sprint even though both athletes dead heated in a time of 8.56 seconds.

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Bezuidenhout sets herself very high standards and she had a grin from ear-to-ear after her victory in the 60 metres sprint.

“It’s important I win at least one of those races, otherwise I am disappointed with myself”, Bezuidenhout told Hatch.

The friendship and competitive juices will continue to flow between the two athletes before they head to Perth to compete Australian Masters Athletics Championships in April, followed by the World Masters Athletics Championships in Malaga, Spain later this year.

Photo gallery below:

C8BBFE27-C604-4E91-AB2D-7999615038F2Women’s 50-54 years sprinters Jackie Bezuidenhout (ANSW number 410) and Kylie Strong (ANSW number 421) lightheartedly joke around pre warm-up  with photo-bomber W 45-49 years sprinter Richelle Ingram.

E7DB0686-1224-48AE-A384-A0348AE06221After warm-up both sprinters are focussed on the task at hand as they are confirmed as starters and given their lane draw by the Athletics NSW official.

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Strong walking back to her mark after undertaking a run-through prior to the 100m final.

EFA0744A-7F38-46EB-88E2-DD00B0635E69Bezuidenhout looks down the track, contemplating her 100 metre journey ahead, while Strong walks back to the start line after completing a run-through.

C9A1DFDC-3676-41CB-BEF4-AF137A946CD8The sprinters have been called to their marks by the starter, as the women’s 50 years shot-putters warm up for their own competition in the background.

After the 100 metre final, Strong joins the shot-putters for a credible 4th placing.

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They’re off and running and world champions Gianna Mogentale (far left), Strong (centre) and Bezuidenhout (far right) lead the field out in a very competitive race. Strong’s victorious on this occasion, with Bezuidenhout second and Mogentale third.

88CCB838-8193-463E-A342-EFAE635698DDStrong cheers on Bezuidenhout as she breaks the NSW W50-54 years 300 metre hurdles record by 20 seconds.

4997AF2A-1CA6-431A-B29D-7F3D07F8A6E1ANSW official George Jankowski (who’s also a masters athlete) hoses down the long jump pit before the W50-54 years competition. Bezuidenhout with W45 years athlete and friend Maria Cimino in tow and Strong are seen conversing with others to Jankowski’s left.

12CAF823-FD88-47CF-B42A-A5F3B450C8E7Bezuidenhout and Cimino take advantage of the shade on a very hot day before the long jump competition.

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Check-in and roll call before the long jump competition gets underway.

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Bezuidenhout long jumping on her way to winning the Women’s W50 years competition.

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Winners are grinners – Kylie Strong – after the 200m

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Jackie Bezuidenhout in reflective mood after the 200 metres.

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Bezuidenhout wins the 60m sprint in a dead-heat with Strong, while Mogentale’s a few paces back in third spot.

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Coach Penny Gillies was happy with both Strong and Bezuidenhout’s athletic performances over the weekend.

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Winners are grinners 2: Bezuidenhout and W45 years sprinter Cimino enjoying themselves after they performed so well at these championships.

Below: Bezuidenhout and Strong are still masters track buddies after the championships and were back training together the following Monday.

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