Meet these dream teams
Bianca and Phil-Mar Janse van Rensburg
In April javelin thrower Phil-Mar just missed the podium when he ended fourth at the Commonwealth Games, while at the African Games in Nigeria this three-year South African champion took home a silver medal. His goals are definitely set on representing his country at the Olympics in Tokyo in 2020. When not on the athletics field, he works as a regional sales manager for the chemical company BASF.
Phil-Mar, who was raised in Tzaneen, has lived in Mbombela the past few years. He brought his beautiful wife to the Lowveld when they got married in August. Both of them were students at North-West University in Potchefstroom, but met each other a few years later with the help of a mutual friend and Facebook.
Phil-Mar was one of the South African athletes who took part in the IAAF Continental Cup in Ostrava in the Czech Republic in September. After the event the couple went on a wonderful honeymoon to Croatia. Bianca enjoys being the wife of a sports star, but finds it difficult not being together. “Living in Krugersdorp while he was here in Mbombela prepared us for being apart for a while. Luckily, being a financial advisor gives me the freedom to sometimes travel along.
“Athletics in the rest of the world is quite a different ball game; they do it on a much larger scale. For a South African athlete to take part in an overseas competition means taking things to the next level, and learning to deal with that kind of pressure. To travel with him internationally is quite exciting,” she says.
Phil-Mar was a confirmed bachelor until he met Bianca, and now he loves the fact that she is somewhere in the crowd. “I love knowing that she is there to take pictures and cheer me on. Not only on the field but also in general, when I am not competing. Having her there to motivate me when I get downhearted is a big blessing,” he smiles fondly.
Bianca is extremely proud of her husband. “Athletics is an exceptionally lonely sport, and everything that Phil-Mar has achieved is the result of hard work and dedication. He makes a lot of sacrifices and I wish him only the best in his career.”
Lisa-Marie Gardner and Brian Shabangu
Brian joined the iCollege Pumas in 2013 and he and Lisa-Marie moved to Mbombela in November that year. Brian is a loose forward and usually plays flank.
This year, 2018, has been a good one for the Pumas: they were crowned SuperSport Challenge champions, and were the only unbeaten team in this tournament. In addition, Brian has been awarded Man of the Match various times in his career with the squad.
The couple met in Port Elizabeth when Brian was playing Varsity Cup rugby for Nelson Mandela University. They both say there was an instant soul connection when their eyes locked for the first time.
Their beautiful son, Sqalosethu, turns three next May. Brian and Lisa-Marie are quite excited as he popped the question on New Year’s Eve and they plan to wed on December 16 in Mbombela.
She says the hardest thing about being with a sportsman is that she is never sure when he will have a day off. “It is always difficult to find time to just chill at home over a weekend,” but then again, being in a relationship with a rugby player means it is all part and parcel of the deal.
“Brian never brings his work home with him. The minute he walks in the front door he is present – mentally, physically and emotionally. That is something I really love about him,” says Lisa-Marie.
He explains how rugby takes its toll emotionally. “So many people in the community support the team. Each one of us takes it upon ourselves to do our utmost best and not let anyone down. We experience a lot of ups and downs on a daily basis, but the pros definitely outweigh the cons,” he smiles.
Both work hard to get Brian’s foundation, BS Sports Scholarship, to the next level. With this, they try and assist kids who excel in various sporting codes but who cannot afford to attend the schools that accommodate them in terms of boarding and sports facilities. They organise boot camps to raise funds for the foundation and as a way to get the community fit and healthy.
Lisa-Marie’s dream for Brian is to fully fulfil his purpose. “He has a heart of gold and a gift when it comes to helping people achieve their goals – big or small. That is basically what the aim of his foundation is, and my dream is that it is up and running 150% in the near future. I also hope that he is always happy and living his life to the fullest!”
Charlotte and Roger Mortlock
In September Roger managed to end sixth at the World Triathlon Grand Finale on Australia’s Gold Coast. This was quite a remarkable achievement as he had improved his own personal best time by more than five minutes.
A keen canoeist, he entered the Xterra off-road triathlon in 2016 as a means of getting fit for the Dusi Marathon. It went quite well, which inspired him to take part in this new event, but he decided on the Olympic distance races: a one-and-a-half-kilometre swim, 40-kilometre bicycle ride and a 10-kilometre race.
Being a full-time farmer, Roger doesn’t really have his eyes on taking part in 2020’s Olympic Games. For now he loves to enter events that take him all over South Africa, and even to wonderful places offshore.
Nine years ago, Roger met Charlotte at Innibos Lowveld National Arts Festival. Charlotte, a Canadian, spent some time in SA doing an internship in graphic design at Lowveld Living. Her plan was to stay for three months, but meeting Roger changed everything. The two of them have been married for four years now and stay in White River.
Charlotte doesn’t find being married to a sports star problematic. Roger has built a training track on the farm and combines practising with his farming. “The only real challenge is being married to someone who is a little bit obsessive. Roger has to practise for three hours every day, even on a Saturday. Luckily, he gets up incredibly early – even when we’ve been out very late – and is usually home by 9am.”
Having his wife at his side on a race day is a big help. “Her support from the sideline is immensely motivating for me. Both our families are also tremendously encouraging. Charlotte loves travelling, and the travelling opportunities that come along with this sport are a massive bonus. Last year we travelled to Mexico and Rotterdam, and this year it was to Morocco and Australia,” he beams.
Charlotte smiles. “Fortunately for me, unlike the wives of soccer stars, I don’t need to wear my Jimmy Choos and designer dress when supporting my husband at an event. If you want to keep up, you had better be dressed in your most comfortable shoes and clothes! But I love that he enjoys it. My dream for him is that he continues to enjoy triathlon as much as he does,” she says. “May he smile through every race!”