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Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Wits University hockey player heads for Tokyo Olympics

More athletes were on Saturday added to Team SA for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, taking the overall squad to 167.

According to sport analysts, the total size of the final team for the games is expected to be around 180.

Saturday’s announcement was the third made by the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc), following previous announcements in May and June.

Nomnikelo ‘‘Nicky’’ Veto (24), a former Wits University hockey player will also be taking part in the 2021 Tokyo Olympics after being named for the South African women’s team. 

Veto said she was ready.

READ: Ntuli brothers set to represent South Africa at the Tokyo Olympics

“With Olympics being held once every four years, and with us being in South Africa and not sure of even going to the next Olympic games, I feel ready. But I am never fully ready to go on the field and play, because I always feel there is something more I could do.

“But so far I am on the right track.”  

Born in Walmer, Gqeberha, Veto started playing hockey at the age of nine, and made her debut with Wits women’s hockey in 2016 for the U21 team.

She has also participated in international tournaments such as the African Cup of Nations in junior and senior teams, and Olympic qualifiers in Spain. 

She graduated in 2020 with a BA in international relations and political studies.

Veto said some of the challenges she faced include the disappointment of not making one of the provincial teams, as well as the expense of the hockey tours to different places.

“It has been a difficult challenge, but the love and passion for the game kept her going and playing,” said Veto who now plays for Wits University’s first team hockey, coached by former South African hockey player Pietie Coetzee-Turner.

Veto has been selected as part of the 26-player squad for the South African Women’s hockey team, which will take part in the Olympic qualifier in Tokyo.

READ: ‘Siyaya eJapan, Tokyo here we come,’ say UJ sportsmen, women in SA squad

She said she used this year to focus on developing her sports abilities in time for the Olympics. Adding that she plans to study law in 2022 as a backup plan in case that does not work out for her.

“Even though I enjoy participating in sports, the study plan will provide me with a long-term solution should I need it,” she said.

The acting CEO of Sascoc, Ravi Govender, said he was delighted that the Team is almost complete.

“I believe the team is a blend of both experienced and new talent with many team members having worn the green and gold of Team South Africa at previous Olympic Games,” he said. 

“We get excited each time we receive notification of a selection. Our athletes have risen above the onslaught of Covid. This is real, it’s happening and we applaud our athletes.”

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