Proud moment watching Dom Scott at the Olympics
09 September 2016
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Brad Brown: You’re listening to Old Mutual Live, great things start here, great things start now. I don’t know about you, but I’m having a bit of Olympic withdrawals. I’m not quite sure what to do with my nights, I’ve got to watch normal television, which is horrible. I’m really missing the Games.
But someone who has just returned from Rio and wasn’t competing. But has a very serious vested interest in one of the athletes that was competing as part of Team South Africa. Funnily enough, we spoke to her here on the podcast just before the Games started I believe. It’s a great pleasure to welcome Renee Scott onto the podcast, Renee, welcome onto the show today, thanks for joining us.
Renee Scott: Thank you Brad, it’s wonderful to be able to share some of my wonderful memories of Rio with you.
BB: Renee, the reason we wanted to chat to you was actually two-fold. As we said, your vested interest in one of the participants at the Rio Games, but also your running prowess. You’ve got a bit of a history of running here in South Africa, we’ll touch on that briefly. You were over in Rio to support your daughter Dominique who was running the 10 000m. It must have been pretty special sitting in the stands watching Dom run.
Incredible to watch Dom run in the Olympics
RS: It was unbelievable. I must admit it was the highlight of our trip. I can’t say we were sitting in the stands, we were certainly leaning over the rail, as close as we could get to her. We certainly didn’t sit once during the 25 laps that she had to run. We were screeching every lap that she came past us.
BB: As a parent, I’ve got kids and they’re pretty good at sport. I’m not sure if they’ll ever go on and represent their country at an Olympic Games. But as a parent, how incredible does that feel, knowing that this little girl who has been in your life for so long has now grown up into this incredible athlete? Competing against the best in the world on this global stage, which is just a dream for most people?
RS: Dominique’s story is amazing. Dominique, she has a little sister who I believe was more talented than Dominique. But Dominique had the passion. Dominique was so determined from about the age of 11/12, she knew she wanted to run. I’m not quite sure why, she did used to watch me a lot doing my own running. But never on the track.
For her, her little life has always been headed towards the Olympics. That she’s realised this is just a dream come true. My husband and I, we are the event directors of a Park Run on the Green Belt in Constantia where Dominique learnt to run. We are hoping that there are going to be more Olympians from our area, taking the same steps that Dominique took to get to where she is today.
BB: Renee, I love the fact, you never know where the seeds are going to get planted and where they come from. We’ve seen so many photos of big stars. There was the photo of Michael Phelps at the Games with a youngster who went on to win medals. We’ve seen it time and time and time again. There’s a photo that’s been doing the rounds on social media after Dominique’s race of her and your hubbie, her dad running. I think it was the Old Mutual Two Oceans, I think it might have been the Fun Run many years ago –
RS: That’s quite correct.
Immensely proud to have watched her development
BB: And looking at that photo and almost how things, I don’t want to say have come full circle because I think Dom has still got a very long career ahead of her. She’s still running fantastically well and as she said to me, 10 000m is probably not her favourite distance. There’s still lots more that she wants to do. How incredible is it that you’ve been able to witness this journey of this little girl who has gone on to do this?
RS: You know, it’s been a long road for her, she’s made sacrifices and the excitement of her getting to the Games was just another step really for us. In hindsight, wow, it’s been fantastic to be able to go and witness it. My husband, I think is Dominique’s biggest supporter, he must be given credit for allowing her to just follow her dream.
I did want to hold onto Dom, I didn’t want her to leave the school where I was teaching at. She went off to Stellenbosch to Rhenish to go and be a track athlete there. My husband really encouraged her, he encouraged her to follow her dream and accept a scholarship to the States. I wanted to hold onto her.
So in terms of where she is today, as I say, it’s been a slow process, step by step by step. That she’s realised that dream has just been incredible. The excitement of us getting to Rio and returning from Rio, life goes on. It’s quite weird to be back and to say that Rio has come and gone. But in fact the enormity of a little girl’s dream being realised is just so tangible.
Being a teacher myself and still teaching girls and still encouraging kids to follow their dreams, it’s really made it such a positive for me. To be able to use Dominique as an example, to say to the kids: Hey, your dreams are possible, just follow them. Be passionate, believe. Use Dominique as an example of reaching those dreams.
BB: I think it’s phenomenal that it is so tangible for the girls that you are teaching now as well. You also mentioned the sacrifices and that was something that Dominique mentioned to me when we chatted just before the Games. She was saying that the decision to move to the States to go to Arizona and take up that scholarship. The conversations that she had with both you and her dad with regards to that and the process and she said that you said to her; it’s going to be four or five years of life. It’s an opportunity.
She’s obviously found love in the States now and she’s married, so that’s part of her home and part of her life now as well. It’s just amazing how athletics can open doors and almost change your stars. It’s funny, I had a conversation with Nolene Conrad about the exact same thing. For Dominique, that’s exactly what’s happened and that plants the seed in other youngsters here in South Africa. As you say, at Rustenburg Girls where you teach, there’s girls who, who knows, in ten or twenty years’ time might be at an Olympics representing South Africa.
RS: I must just correct you, not Arizona, it’s Arkansas –
BB: Sorry, my bad.
Living the American dream but still very much South African
RS: Arkansas have been absolutely amazing to her, they love her. Dominique has a wonderful manner with people. As a mom I’m going to say this, but she’s not only beautiful on the outside, she’s a beautiful person inside. Arkansas have really taken them under their wings and let her fly.
In terms of where she comes from, where Dominique comes from, she has had the most incredible support and interest shown in her since the time that she was selected to represent South Africa. Her junior school, she was at Herschel Junior School and came to the Herschel Senior School for two years. They have used her as a female role model and they’ve followed her dream.
They’ve got all these little Grade 4’s to 6’s, to 7’s actually following her on Instagram and Twitter and looking up to her. I think in South Africa we’ve been so short of female role models for such a long time. I think Elana Meyer in a recent interview has just said, we’re entering a new era for athletics in South Africa.
That we’ve got role models to look up to, we need to make use of them. We need to encourage that, her old teachers or past pupils and present pupils, now really follow her. Use her as a tangible person that they can also be one day.
BB: Renee, you talk about the role models, ladies running in South Africa is going through this massive revival at the moment. Which I think is amazing. It was interesting that Dominique took that course to go to the Razor Backs in the States. Because it’s not a common course. Often we see it here where athletes come and they’ll go to an academy like Endurocad for example. Or they’ll base themselves at the High Performance Centre in Pretoria.
But there aren’t many athletes who are going abroad and doing it. She’s almost blazed a trail in that way as well. But there’s something special happening in ladies running in SA right now, if you think about it. I’m not sure if you’d agree with me, I don’t know what it is, I can’t quite put my finger on it.
RS: Yes, unfortunately when Dominique finished school, South African athletics was still pretty, there wasn’t much happening. She took advice from some of our top female athletes at the time. So we’re going back to 2010. They advised her that if she wanted to make it in middle distance running, she would need to go and train with like-minded people. People who had the same ability as her.
There was a dearth of that in SA at the time. She was running with the boys. She was the only girl who could run the times that she was running. She needed to be pushed by like-minded female runners. We didn’t actually have to even look abroad. American universities recruited her to come and look at their universities.
She was well sought after and that was actually after I had posted, by fluke I posted a video of her running the 3 000m at Athletics South Africa Junior Championships. She’d won this and that is how the American universities recruited her, was actually through a YouTube post that I had posted just for fun.
As I say, in those days, in 2010 wasn’t much happening. Nowadays we’ve got this revival and we’ve got fantastic middle distance runners. It’s still in its infancy, but we’re definitely on the up. I am aware of another South African athlete who has just moved into Arkansas, started last week in fact. I’m sure more and more people are going to be staying in South Africa and sticking around with the middle distance ladies that are around.
Where Dom gets her genes
BB: Renee, let’s talk a little bit about your running, you’re still running, I was doing some research for this interview. I managed to find a result of a fairly recent Spar Ladies Race where you placed quite well in your age group. We’re not going to give that age group away. But you’re still running fast.
Time-wise they’re still there, you’re a Comrades Gold Medallist, running is a huge part of your life as well. Often being able to run fast means you’ve got to come from good stock. So you’ve obviously given Dominique a hand up there. There was no choice of her own in the family she was born into. But you’re a pretty good runner yourself.
RS: Brad, thank you, that’s all very historic. I do still run, I run every single day, it’s what makes me tick. I was actually a triathlete to start off with and captained the Springbok Triathlon side for a couple of years. Then had Dominique and Natasha and then started my Comrades journey.
I remember so clearly, my husband driving alongside me in the Durbanville Marathon, with the two little girls leaning out the window shouting: Mom, come on mom, you’re doing superbly. So, from a very early age, Dom and Tash used to just support me with my husband. There was actually no other way.
Dominique had to accompany me on Friday afternoons when I took the Herschel Junior Cross Country Squad to their races every Friday afternoon. She’ll tell you the story that she was always bored watching and she decided to just get up and run. Her sister would always win the races, old Dominique would come 6th or 7th, but she was delighted with herself.
She always found this absolute love for running. She’ll tell you that she didn’t have much option, but she had to run. If she wanted to see mom or be part of mom’s life, she had to run. So, yes, she did start running very young. She herself was a very good triathlete and represented South Africa for two years, won African Champs in Grade 8 and 9.
When she did that, she travelled to Zimbabwe with the team, without her mom and dad. She travelled to Mauritius without her mom and dad, so already the seed was sown. She was going to make it in whatever field we were prepared to encourage her to go into.
BB: Fantastic. Renee, best of luck, congratulations once again, I can’t imagine as a parent what it must feel like, maybe one day I’ll get to experience that. But I think both of you should be extremely proud of Dominique. Like you say, she’s an incredible young lady and conducts herself well. She’s such an ambassador for South Africa and she’s just an incredible athlete. I love watching her run, she makes it look so easy and I think there’s a lot more to come from her.
RS: Thank you, yes, she’s very excited about representing South Africa, she’ll be home again November/December. She’s going to spend quite a bit of time here in summer and she looks forward to returning to SA Champs again in most probably April next year. But she looks forward to being part of South Africa’s future, so thank you for the opportunity to chat Brad.