By John Harvey
THERE can be few better hometown hero accounts than that of South African women’s hockey star Sulette Damons, the Graaff-Reinet “tomboy” whose scintillating performances in the recent Olympic qualifier in India helped book the team’s place in London later this year.
Now for Damons and her teammates it is a date with destiny on the world’s biggest sporting stage – the ultimate dream for the girl whose turn of pace was honed by chasing her pet dog, Tommy Lee, as a child.
“I am unbelievably excited about the Olympics, provided I am selected for the squad,” the bubbly 22-year-old told Weekend Post.
“I played and captained EP in all age groups I played in, and in 2004 was selected for the SA u-16 team, when I was 14. That was a great moment for me.”
After going on to star for the South African u-21 side, it was only a matter of time before the national senior team’s selectors came calling and today she is considered a vital cog in the Proteas’ machine. “The win in India has definitely boosted our confidence for the Olympics… we are bonding like a family and that is a fantastic thing for our game.”
Union High principal William Pringle said Damons was “one of the real success stories” of the school. “She came along at a time when there were very few role models of colour. She has shown hockey is not the preserve of white people, and because of what she has done we are seeing many of our black and coloured kids playing the sport. She is a real example.”
This is a shortened version of an article that first appeared in the print edition of Weekend Post on Saturday March 3 2012.