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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

Young researchers are equipped to participate in projects relevant in global context
2017-09-05

 Description: Wheat genomics Tags: bioinformatics, Dr Renée Prins, Department of Plant Sciences, DNA and RNA, data sets 

This group of early career researchers received bioinformatics
training in Worcester in the UK from Dr Diane Saunders of the
John Innes Centre in the UK.
Photo: Supplied

The interdisciplinary field that develops methods and software tools to understand biological data is known as bioinformatics. According to Dr Renée Prins, a research fellow in the Department of Plant Sciences at the University of the Free State, there are few tertiary institutions in South Africa that offer a postgraduate degree in Bioinformatics.

“Most institutions focus either on humans, human diseases, forest trees and their pathogens.  They usually do not have spare capacity to assist researchers, for instance, those working on crops in the agricultural sector,” Dr Prins said.

Big data sets need significant skills

With the advancements made in genomics such as high throughput DNA marker platforms and next-generation sequencing technologies, the data sets biologists have to deal with have grown massively big and cannot be dealt with unless you have significant computer skills.

Dr Prins believes that all young researchers need some level of training in this field to be effective in future. The British Council Researcher Links, being run by the Newton Fund, gives early career researchers across selected partner countries the opportunity to form international connections through fully funded workshops and travel grants. Dr Prins made use of this opportunity and with the assistance of the Department of Research Development at the UFS, she arranged for Dr Diane Saunders of the John Innes Centre in the UK, a bioinformatician of note, to present training to a group of 20 early career researchers in Worcester in the UK.

Providing training with Dr Saunders were two other bioinformaticians from the UK, Dr Burkhard Steuernagel (John Innes Centre) and Dr Robert Davey (Earlham Institute). From the UFS side, Eleanor van der Westhuizen and Dr Henriëtte van den Berg (former UFS academic) acted as mentors, providing guidance on funding opportunities and career development skills.

Participating in projects in a global context
The researchers attending the training came from research institutions or academia, and they work involving plants (predominantly wheat) or plant pathogens. A limited number of participants from the commercial sector, including private South African companies focusing on plant breeding and molecular genetics lab work on agriculturally important crops also benefited from the training. 

“Tertiary institutions in South Africa have the obligation to ensure that young scientists are equipped with bioinformatics skills. If they are not equipped with the necessary skills, they will not be able to participate in research projects that are relevant in a global context,” said Dr Prins. 

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