Dominique Scott-Efurd – ready to light up Rio
08 May 2016
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Brad Brown: Welcome onto this edition of Old Mutual Live, great things start here, great things start now. I’m super excited, Olympic Games just about upon us, it’s an incredible experience to watch, never mind to be a part of. Someone who is going to be a part of it is Dominique Scott-Efurd. Dominique, welcome onto Old Mutual Live, thanks for joining us.
Dominique Scott-Efurd: Thank you for having me, I’m really excited to be here today.
BB: Dom, the Olympics. I spoke to Elroy Gelant not that long ago, just a little bit about what it means to him to represent South Africa at an Olympic Games. I think for any athlete it’s the pinnacle, they only come around every four years, there’s something truly special about an Olympics.
DS: You’re totally right. The Olympics is not something that happens overnight, it’s years and years of dedication to your sport on and off the track. It’s certainly the pinnacle of sport and to be able to say that I’m going to represent South Africa in less than a months’ time at the Rio Olympic Games is still kind of surreal, it’s really cool.
BB: Dominique, let’s talk about you and you as an athlete. You’ve done things slightly differently as far as your athletic career goes. But you’ve taken some risks and taken some chance and it’s paid off. You’re obviously originally from Cape Town I believe, you grew up in the Mother City. Decided to head over to the United States to follow your dreams essentially and run on the Collegiate system. It was a bit of a risk, but it’s paid off.
Making the decision to further my development in the US
DS: Yeah, it definitely was a bit of a risk, my life, ever since I was 14, 9th Grade. I decided to make sacrifices and follow my dream of wanting to be a professional athlete, track and field athlete. Wanting to represent my country at the Olympic Games. When I was 14 I left Herschel Girls School in Claremont, Cape Town, which was where I’d been since Grade R. My mom was a teacher, my sister went to the school.
So I really left my comfort zone to move out to Stellenbosch and go to Rhenish Girls High School which was where I started training with Johan Fourie. Johan Fourie was just an incredible coach, he had a great group of athletes and really started to develop the track athlete.
Then when I was a senior, when I was in 12th Grade I started to run some times that were comparable to juniors running around the world. Some colleges in the United States started contacting me and it just kind of snowballed from there. Christine Kalmer who is also on the Rio Olympic squad for the marathon also was an Arkansas Razor Back and coached by Lans Hotter.
So she kind of connected me with the coach. Told me that it was a great opportunity for me and that she’d really enjoyed her time over there in the States. So decided to take another leap of faith and move even further away from home and it’s definitely been worth it. I have grown as an athlete and as a woman, so it’s been a great move for me.
BB: Dom, how cool is it that both you and Christine are on this Olympic team together? I think that’s amazing.
DS: Yeah, it really is so cool. We were never teammates together because she’s a little bit older than I am, but we’ve both taken the same footsteps and the same path. Now to be on the Rio Olympic team together is really cool.
Good sports genes run in the family
BB: Let’s talk about your background and you mentioned your mum being a teacher, you come from pretty good stock. You’ve got some good athletes in your family too, tell us a little bit about that and particularly from a triathlon point of view?
DS: Yeah, so I definitely have good genes. My mom Marinda Scott captained the Springbok triathlon team a couple of years ago. She actually won Worlds in the open division. I’m not sure what year it was, I want to say it was around 1990 in the early 1990’s.
Then my aunt, Vivian Williams is still a very competitive triathlete. Then my mom has run competitive marathons. She’s won three Gold Medals, which is Top 10 at the Comrades Marathon. So definitely have some good genes that have definitely helped me to get to where I am today.
BB: I find it quite interesting and South Africa has got this appetite for long distance endurance stuff. You’re obviously still young, but you’re running the shorter stuff. I find it strange that you come from a family who are really good at the longer stuff. But you’ve decided that you’re better right now at the shorter stuff, what was the thinking behind that?
Focusing on track
DS: Well, 10km on the track is long. But I think later on in life, the marathon and triathlon will be kind of my sweet spot. Right now I’m trying to keep it as short as possible because I know that once you take that step up to the higher distance, it’s really hard to come back down.
I’m still working on my speed. I love the 5km. I play around with the 1500m as well. So just, you can’t run a good 10 000 without having the leg speed for the last kilometre, for the last lap. As well as even triathlon, you need to still have those fast twitch fibres. While I’m still young, working on that speed and then when I think it’s time to move up to the higher distances I will.
BB: Love that. let’s talk times, you’ve run some phenomenal times over the last season or two. You must be pretty chuffed with the form you’re in, heading into the Olympics. You’re running really fast, talk to me about some of those times and some of the performances that you’re particularly proud of?
DS: Yeah, I think it all goes back to the fact that I haven’t been injured for the past four years. Every season I’ve been able to build on top of each other, without being injured and having to start from scratch again. Every season I’ve been running PB’s in every distance which not everyone can say. I’ve been really lucky and blessed being injury free and just having good races.
At the moment my 1500 PB is 4:08, my 3km PB which I’ve just recently ran in the Monaco Diamond League is 8:46, my 5km PB is 15:25 which unfortunately was 1.1 seconds off the Olympic qualifying time. Then my 10km PB is 31:56, which was a good 19 seconds under the Olympic qualifying standard.
BB: What is your favourite distance, what do you personally love running right now?
DS: I love the 3km, unfortunately it’s not an event that’s run outdoors, it’s normally only run indoors. So then I would go up to the 5km. But the 10km is so long. But I know I’m good at it. I do enjoy racing it, it’s just 25 laps, 30 minutes, 32 minutes, it’s a long time to remain focused and grinding. But I really, I do think that that’s the event that I’m best at at the moment.
Who I looked up to & always will be South African
BB: Who were some of your athletic heroes growing up?
DS: Oh my word, I loved watching Kelly Holmes. Kelly Holmes on the track, Paula Radcliffe on the roads, and then I always just looked up to my mom, just being my local hero. She was a teacher, she was a mother and she was still able to go and be competitive in Cape Town in the road races.
BB: Brilliant. Let’s talk about you being in the States, representing South Africa. You’ve obviously made a life in the States now. You talk about home being South Africa, but I think the States for you is just as much of a home, you do enjoy it there. Are you a bit torn, but not in a bad way, that you’re representing South Africa where you could, it must be a bit conflicting, it must be difficult.
DS: Yeah, so five years ago, 2011 I made the decision to come over here for school and to run. I got a scholarship to pay for my schooling and in turn I would be representing the University of Arkansas on the cross country course and on the track.
I remember being really nervous and apprehensive about coming. About three days before I was meant to get on the plane and I really didn’t want to come. I mean I love South Africa, my family is all there and I had lots of friends back in South Africa at the time.
My mom said to me: Four or five years, whichever length of time you decide to study for, seems like a long time now. But when you’re my age, four or five years is nothing. She told me you just have to trust and make a leap of faith and go over there.
She always teases me now that I was meant to come home and I was meant to come back to CT and be close to them. Unfortunately, I fell in love with someone over here, so we have started a life over here. Married Cameron in December of last year, December 2015, but SA is still my home.
We came back to CT to get married, just because CT is so important to me. It’s where I grew up, it’s where my family is, it’s really where I still call home. Faithful Arkansas I would say is my training base, but Cape Town is my home.
BB: I get exactly what you’re saying about CT, funnily enough. I’ve just moved to CT, so I feel your love for the city. It’s an incredible place to live and I’ve also spent quite a bit of time in the States as well. I was an exchange student in Alabama of all places, so it’s an incredible place. It’s as you say, the land of opportunity and you’ve taken those opportunities with two hands. Dom, we’re so proud of you.
Every single South African who is shouting and supporting the Olympic Team is right behind you. I think, as I said, I think what you’ve done is really brave. It was a risk and you’ve proved it right and I think the path that you’ve taken is phenomenal, so congratulations. I want to wish you all the best at Rio, soak it all up and we look forward to your performance. I don’t want to put you under pressure, but what are you hoping for from a results perspective?
DS: Thanks, thank you for those kind words. It definitely wasn’t easy to come over here, but you’re right, America does offer lots of opportunities, especially for young people. I was determined to take those opportunities. It wasn’t easy being so far from my family. It definitely wasn’t the easy choice. But having a huge training group here, lots of competitive races and a great coach definitely allowed me to excel in my running.
Then as far as the Olympic goes, I think my main goal is to just make my country proud. I know that South Africa hasn’t had a female represent them in the 10km in 20 years, so that’s kind of cool. I’m excited to break that. Yes, make my country proud.
I would like to have the best race of my career at the Olympics, so obviously running a PB and just not giving up. I want to go out there, put myself in the race. Obviously I’m not one of the favourites to win the race or get a medal, but I want to go out there and compete and make sure that I put it all out on the track.
BB: And on the day anything can happen. Funnily enough, I had a chat to Elana Meyer on the phone just the other day. You talk about the first female to run the 10 000 in a long time, Elana, obviously that medal back in 1992 in Barcelona in the 10 000, the Silver was phenomenal.
I can tell you that she is unbelievably excited that you’re running the 10 000. She’s super proud of you as well and we can’t wait to watch you race. Dom, thank you so much for your time, best of luck and fingers crossed, who knows…
DS: Yeah, who knows and there’s another Olympics in four years’ time, I’ll only be 28 then. So I’ll have a little bit of experience under my belt and yeah, just want to go out and give it my all. Thank you for having me, it was fun chatting.
BB: And there’s one four years after that, so who knows, could be the step up to the marathon when you’re 32, so there you go.
DS: Exactly. Still young, got many miles to go.