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03 May 2019 | Story Ruan Bruwer
Lynique Beneke
Lynique Beneke, long jump athlete of the University of the Free State and the national women’s champion seven times in a row, hopes to qualify for the World Championships.

The long jumper, Lynique Beneke, dreams of going to another Olympic Games and jumping over seven metres before she retires.

In between, there is still a World Championship later in the year for which she is trying to qualify. The qualifying standard is 6,72 m, not far from the 6,64 m she achieved at the national athletics championships at the end of April, which earned her a seventh consecutive national crown. At the time, it was the seventh best globally. She will have to qualify in Europe, as the South African season is over.

“With my faith as my biggest support, my mom and I both dreamed about me jumping exactly the same distance of 7,03 m! That is my big goal. I know I can do that,” Beneke (28) said. Her personal best is 6,81 m.

Special bond with coach


She is currently studying Education (BEd Senior and FET phase). “At this moment, I’m focusing on finishing my degree and enjoying my athletics. I want to give my athletics a fair chance, as I am only getting into prime shape now at this age. Once I’m done with athletics, I will focus on a career.”

According to Beneke, a 2016 Olympian and the Kovsie Senior Sportswoman of the Year for 2018, consistency is the name of her game. “I show up, even when I don’t feel like it. I push myself every day. I feel I have so much left in the tank, and that motivates me. All the glory to God.”

She is married to the hurdler, PC (also a Kovsie student). They moved from Gauteng to Bloemfontein at the end of 2017.

“My coach, Emmarie Fouché, was the big influence (coming here). I started working with her at the end of 2015. We work perfectly together; we are both women and have the same work ethic. She understands me. We are very close, and I think that is what makes the difference.”


News Archive

#Women’sMonth: Who am I? Questions of identity among Rwandan rape survivors
2017-08-03

 Description: Michelle Nöthling, Questions of identity among Rwandan rape survivors Tags: Michelle Nöthling, Questions of identity among Rwandan rape survivors 

Michelle Nöthling, master’s degree student
in the Centre for Trauma, Forgiveness, and
Reconciliation Studies at the UFS.
Photo: Eugene Seegers

From 7 April to 15 July 1994, a mass genocide swept through Rwanda after years of Belgian colonial rule that divided the country along ethnic lines. Rape was also used as part of a political strategy to torture and humiliate mainly Tutsi women, and as a means of spreading HIV.

Individual focus
Why is it important to listen to what these rape survivors have to say? Michelle Nöthling, a master’s student in the UFS Centre for Trauma, Forgiveness, and Reconciliation Studies, responds, “We speak of groups – refugees, foreigners, and the like – yet we tend to forget the individuals and the lasting impact trauma has had on each person.”

Narrative exploration
Michelle maintains that we are the product of the narratives around us; things like – how to be a woman, how to dress, speak, or treat others. Her research delves into how these rape survivors see themselves, how they narrate their lives. She also investigates power relations based on gender; for example, how language can be used as a divisive tool.

Rwandan backdrop
In Rwanda, gender roles are deeply entrenched. Traditionally, a ‘girl’ remains such while she is a virgin. Her transition into womanhood is usually marked by marriage and followed by motherhood. But rape disrupts this structure, leading to an identity crisis as these girls are catapulted into motherhood with an unplanned child resulting from a traumatic event.

“We are the product of
the narratives around us.”

Reaching their mid-teens, the children, too, started asking questions about identity or paternity. For those mothers who were finally able to open up to their children, the experience has been mostly liberating – often leading to a closer relationship between parent and child. Michelle intends to interrogate how such significant moments shape the way these women perceive themselves. Research tends to portray these survivors solely as mothers of rape-born children. Michelle, however, seeks to examine their identities more deeply.

“These survivors still bear the heavy burden of being marginalised, stigmatised, and severely humiliated. Despite this, they have developed their own communities of belonging; people with whom they connect, to whom they relate, and to whom they are not ashamed to tell their experiences,” she said.

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