‘I was tired of losing’: Sprinting towards greatness with Rivaldo Roberts 

by | Mar 27, 2024 | Athletics - Mens, South Africa

Photo/Source credit: Rivaldo Roberts

In the realm of athletics, there are those whose stories resonate deeply, transcending the boundaries of track lanes and finish lines. Rivaldo Roberts emerges as one such figure, a South African sprinter whose path to success is as inspiring as it is unconventional.

Roberts’s journey into the world of sports was far from conventional. “I was every South African boy, a rugby player. I wanted to play for the Springboks and play for the Bulls where I come from (Pretoria),” he reminisced. 

It wasn’t until the 2012 Olympics that he had an epiphany, realizing the temptation of track and field. “I started track pretty late at 16/17 years old. But I think it was not until the 2012 Olympics. I was like, ‘Damn, this is actually something I could do. I want to do,'” he recalled.

Despite a late start in track and field, Roberts quickly found his footing, initially drawn to the challenge of hurdling. “So, I started as a short hurdler,” he explained. “My process just kind of went that way.” His dedication and raw talent propelled him through the junior ranks, earning his first World Youths appearance. 

However, he soon found that the transition from youth to senior ranks posed significant challenges. “At a youth level, it’s a little bit more playful. You’re racing your friends, you’re racing kids your age, it’s not as serious, and once you start getting to senior ranks, it’s some people’s livelihood. It’s super serious,” Roberts explained. The mental shift required to compete at the senior level was profound, demanding patience, discipline, and resilience.

For Roberts, the turning point came in 2018 when he grew tired of mediocrity. “I was tired of losing. That was just the main thing. I was tired of losing,” he admitted. Determined to break free from the cycle of defeat, he sought a renewed commitment to excellence. “Then in 2019, I started making finals. Ran good times. I guess that was the turning point where I was like, Okay, I could do this.”

Navigating the highs and lows of athletic endeavours requires a delicate balance of mental grit and emotional stability. Roberts reflects on his approach, stating, “I give myself time to kind of mourn, give myself time to be mad or sad. But then the next day, I must go back to work.” His ability to rebound from setbacks with unwavering focus highlights his tenacity and determination.

As he navigated the treacherous waters of elite competition, Roberts found solace in his faithful support system. “I have a great team around me, amazing, super supportive,” he acknowledges. Yet, he acknowledges the need to confront the lows of his journey alone. “The lows, I prefer handling it myself, because I feel like it’s something I need to deal with at that moment.”

Amidst the financial constraints that come from being part of the athletics world, Roberts remains undeterred. “You can’t sit around all day, hoping it would happen. You have to kind of make a conscious effort,” he asserted. Despite the financial hurdles, his passion for the sport remains unyielding, propelling him forward in pursuit of his goals.

As the sprinter’s career evolved, so too did his training regimen. “I need to get specific with my strength training and stuff. I don’t know if it’s just in South Africa, but I’ve never heard it anywhere else in the world where you have this thing where the gym is not important. It’s an aid when you’re a sprinter, it’s just as important as your training. “

Embracing the importance of strength training and adequate rest, he realized the transformative impact of comprehensive preparation. 

“I remember to this day Akani Simbine was in the gym, and I was doing leg press and stuff.  He (Simbine) was looking at me, and he just stuck on weights. ‘I was like, bro, what are you doing?’ He’s like, ‘No, now you push,’ and I was dead. But from that day, I never looked back like that showed me damn, I’m super far behind where I needed to be strength-wise.”

In the face of adversity, Roberts maintains an unshakable resolve, driven by ambition. “The end goal is still the same, and that is to try and be the best,” he asserted. “I know I can get there or get close to it, and things are gonna happen.”

Looking ahead, Roberts envisions a legacy defined by resilience, hard work, and camaraderie. “I’d like to be remembered as a fighter, someone who never gave up, someone who always stayed persistent,” revealed the 27-year-old. 

Beyond his achievements on the track, he aspires to be remembered as a gracious competitor and a steadfast friend.

“Just a total competitor, hard worker and someone you can get along with off the track.” stated the track star.

In Rivaldo Roberts, South Africa has found not only a sprinting sensation but a beacon of determination and fortitude. His journey serves as a testament to the power of perseverance, reminding us that success is not only measured in victories but in the undefeatable spirit of the human heart.


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