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Sport talent bolsters national teams

- Wits University

Student athletes and coaches from various sport codes fly the SA flag at the World University Games.

Five Witsies - Harry Saner, Tamsyn Bessit, Panashe Dumbu, Muhammad Saloojee and Athi Diliza were part of Team South Africa that returned with two gold medals, 11 silver and seven bronze medals at a sporting event for university athletes. The World Student Games took place in Chengdu in western China, under the auspices of the International University Sports Federation (FISU), whose motto is Excellence in Mind and Body. This celebration of international university sports and culture draws thousands of student-athletes together to compete, making it among the world's largest and most prestigious multi-sport events.

Meet the rising stars

Fencer Harry Saner went from dreaming about being a shining armour to a real champion 

Harry Saner, a 22-year-old fencer, is no stranger to international competitions. Formerly ranked 93 in the world for the Junior Men’s Foil in 2020, Saner has since gone on to participate in the 2022 African Championships in Casablanca, Morocco, where he received his first senior bronze medal. His love for fencing started as a kid when he wanted to be a knight in shining armour.

The mechanical engineering student says studying and trying to be a high-performing athlete can be challenging. However, the trick is consistency and time management. With his great sense of perseverance and grit, the next stop for him is the Olympics.

Basketball player, Panashe Dumbu is getting familiar with international platforms. Dumbu plays ‘small forward’, a position likened to a "swiss army knife" because they can do just about everything, from scoring, rebounding, handling the ball, passing, and defending. He was drafted to the national U17 Basketball Team while in high school. The first-year Electrical Engineering student made his debut at the World Student Games and is predicted to feature at many other local and international stages.

Gymnast and BSc student Tamsyn BessitTamsyn Bessit is a senior national champion for women’s artistic gymnastic and has participated in two World Cup Games. Her love for gymnastics started at the age of four. The third-year Bachelor of Sciences student was drawn to the sport because of the self-mastery and discipline that it brings. “Every day I get into the gym, there’s a new challenge. Nothing is ever the same and it helps me in life.” According to Bessit, all of this teaches lifelong qualities that empower her to deal with whatever life throws her way.

Wits alumni Muhammad Saloojee and Athi Diliza are committed to developing talent. 

Muhammad Saloojee, is a professional rowing coach who has had the opportunity to coach his students to national winning teams, and was drafted to coach the team that went to China. His love for rowing began in high school, and this is where he decided that he wants to coach someone to an Olympic Gold Medallist. As a coach, he enjoys working with athletes and believes it is a privilege to be a mid-wife on their journey to great heights. He adds that rowing is an incredibly beautiful sport with a touch of magic to it. Inspired by Jurgen Grobler, the most successful rowing coach of all time, Saloojee is using all within him to realise his destiny and propel those he coaches. He holds an honours degree in psychology and a BA in Industrial and Organisational Psychology from Wits.

Wits alumnae Diliza has made a name for herself as a sports manager for diving. The Bachelor of Arts, majoring in Psychology and Law graduate was the force behind the diving team at the FISU games. Diliza is also the Chairman Committee of the South African Schools Diving Association and the Secretary of the Gauteng Schools’ Diving. The versatile coach was a formidable gymnast during her time at Wits.

Muhammad Salojee rowing coach