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SA Army Celebration 10th SA Army  Fittest Soldier Championships, 4 to 9 September 2016, Potchefstroom

 
Article by Lieutenant Colonel Louis Janeke, Staff Officer 1, SA Army Physical Training Sport and Recreation (SA Army Headquarters)

The South African Army hosted of the 10th Fittest Soldier Championships from 04 to 09 September 2016 at Potchefstroom. The competition was masterfully hosted by the SA Army Intelligence Formation. 4 Artillery Regiment (4 Arty Regt) and the other units in the Potchefstroom region provided great support to the chairperson of the local organising committee of the competition, Colonel Johan Branson, the office commander (OC) of the School of Tactical Intelligence. Lance Corporal Odakeng Morifi of 10 South African Infantry Battalion (SAI Bn) was crowned the 2016 SA Army Fittest Soldier female champion for the second year running, while Corporal Marunane Maphutha of National Ceremonial Guard (NCG) was crowned the 2016 SA Army Fittest Soldier Male Champion.

One of the undisputed highlights of this year’s competition was the gracious support provided by the SA Army’s senior cadre that participated in the senior soldier category. Thirty six (36) generals, master warrant officers, officers commanding and regimental sergeant majors successfully accepted the challenge to contest a tough 15 km route in the 4 Artillery Regiment training area while carrying a weight of 20 kg (males) or 15 kg (females). Chief Army Force Preparation, Major General Nontobeko Mpaxa, set the example by being the most senior member to participate in the competition, the Officer commanding of the Department of Defence Main Ordnance Depot, Lieutenant Colonel Peter Hudsenberg was the winner of this category.  

The first SA Army Fittest Soldier Competition was presented by the Army Support Base Bloemfontein during November 2007 where a modest number of 126 members participated. 10 Years later, more than 200 members who had been nominated to participate in the competition were not able to participate due to the competition’s capacity of only 300 participants. The first SA Army Fittest Soldier champion, Major Eugene De Wet (46 SA Bde HQ) as well as Lieutenant Colonel Benjamin Molekane, Warrant Officer class 1 Aaron Sibande and Lieutenant Colonel Louis Janeke (creator of this competition) are members that have been involved since the first competition. Over the years the SA Army fittest soldier technical director, Staff Sergeant A. Botha (a qualified programme engineer) has developed a tailor-made programme that makes results instantly available. 

The SA Army Foundation celebrated its 60th anniversary it’s the 10th SA Army Fittest Soldier competition by sponsoring all the participants on parade with a golf shirt. Major General Nontobeko Mpaxa was the Chief functionary of the glamorous 2016 SA Army Fittest Soldier Competition opening parade that was presented by the School of Tactical Intelligence.  She stressed her gratitude to the members on parade for the example they set to the rest of the SANDF wrt fitness and discipline. The importance of fitness and the ability of soldiers to be able to shoot was also stressed. General Mpaxa indicated that she was pleased with the large number of senior soldiers and females that entered the competition, and that she and the other senior soldiers were looking forward to doing the endurance walk with all the participants. 

The first competition protocol introduced was the known “Bleep Test” where the participants push themselves to the utmost to obtain the early lead. This multi-run exercises was one of the ultimate aerobic measurement tools of the competition. The next and one of the most challenging protocols (for some participants) was where the participants were required to do a pool crossing of 25 m as fast as possible. Where some participants were lightning fast in the pool, some of the other members showed guts and determination to reach the other side of the pool in the best possible time. 

The second morning of the competitions (as in the past) the surprise event was an eye opener for members who were participating for the first time. The SA Army Intelligence Formation provided a challenging course by utilising intelligence unique equipment where the participants were stretched to their limits. After the competition some of the participants indicated that they will for ever more have respect for the “tripods” utilised by the SA Army Intelligence Formation. The 400 m backwards and sideways running and the Agility-T test ended off the second day’s events. 

The “Fun Run” was another challenging event, where from the participants had to run with equipment over a large number of obstacles for a distance of more than 4 km. Some intelligence colour was given to this event where the participants had to identify equipment (using binoculars) that was placed in the veld. After completing this exhausting challenge the soldiers still had to do the standard SANDF physical fitness evaluations. To be crowned the 10th SA Army Fittest Soldier Champions in the different categories members still had to complete the 20 km (males under 35 years) or 15 km endurance run carrying the required equipment on the last day of competition. 

All the participants looked forward to the evening “flower ceremonies” where medals and prises were provided to the winners of all protocols per age groups. The SA Army Intelligence Formation was able to obtain sponsorships and prizes for all the different protocols which were presented during the daily flower ceremonies to the different winners of each category. This recognition was a highlight for many participants as it was the fruit of months of hard training.  

The winners of the 2016 SA Army Fittest Soldier Competition were as follows

Senior Soldier

1st:      Col P.H. Hudsenberg              (Department of Defence Main Ordnance Depot)

2nd:     MWO T.M. Mushayi               (Headquarter 43 South African Brigade)

3rd:      MWO E.B. Ketisemore           (Joint Support Base Garrison)

Best Female 50+

1st:      Col D. Janse van Rensburg   (SA Army Signal Formation Headquarters)

2nd:     WO1 T. Maseko                     (SA Army Intelligence Formation Headquarters)

Best Male 50+

1st:      S Sgt N.J. Moloto                   (101 Air Support Unit)

2nd:     Sgt O.P. Batantse                   (4 Artillery Regiment)

3rd:      S Sgt S.R. Mogoje                  (School of Tactical Intelligence)

Best Female 40 - 49

1st:      Sgt D.M .Mogatle                    (4 Artillery Regiment)

2nd:     Maj H. Dalton                          (SA Army Armour Formation Headquarters)

3rd:      WO1 N.M.M. Mathibela          (SA Army Training Formation Headquarters)

Best Male 45-44

1st:      S Sgt M.I. Molahlehi               (Infantry School)

2nd:     Cpl M. Ramudzuli                   (SA Army Engineer Formation Headquarters)

3rd:      L Cpl B.M. Mokoena               (101 Air Supply Unit)

Best Female 30-39

1st:      Pte K.N. Makgai                     (Army Support Base Limpopo)

2nd:     L Cpl F.S. Zulu                        (School of Engineers)

3rd:      Pte M.Z. Hola                          (Joint Support Base Garrison)

Best Male 35-44

1st:      Maj M.I. Senamela                 (SA Army Gymnasium)

2nd:     Maj E. de Wet                         (Headquarters 46 SA Brigade)

3rd:      Capt N. Mtantato                    (Infantry School)

Best Overall Female

1st:      L Cpl O.G. Morifi                    (10 South African Infantry Battalion)

2nd:     Pte B.P. Kelebone                  (1 Special Service Battalion)

3rd:      L Cpl L.A.M. Brand                 (Infantry School)

Best Overall Male

1st:      Cpl M.A. Maphutha                 (National Ceremonial Guard) 

2nd:     Bdr S.L. Gole                          (10 Anti Air Regiment)

3rd:      Pte K.M. Mathaha                   (44 Parachute Regiment)

Best Formation HQ

1st:      Headquarters 43 SA Brigade

2nd:     Headquarters 46 SA Brigade

3rd:      SA Army Headquarters

Best SA Army Unit

1st:      Infantry School

2nd:     4 Artillery Regiment 

3rd:      15 South African Infantry Battalion

Best SA Army Formation

1st:      SA Army Infantry Formation

2nd:     SA Army Support Formation

3rd:      SA Army Engineer Formation

The chief functionary of the 2016 SA Army Fittest Soldier prise-given ceremony was the Chief Army Force Preparation, Major General Nontobeko Mpaxa. General Mpaxa used this occasion to thank all the role players that made it possible for the SA Army Intelligence Formation to present this excelled competition. Not only the category winners were honoured by medals and trophies for their efforts during the week, but also a various number of planners, officials and senior soldiers.

 The 2017 SA Army Fittest Soldier Competition will be presented by the SA Army Sup Fmn at ASB Kimberley.

 

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Opening Parade: The Chief Functionary was Major General Nontobeko Mpaxa (Chief Army Force Preparation), Sponsored by the SA Army Foundation

Photo by SA Army Intelligence Formation

 

Opening Parade: Colonel William Jansen (52) from the SA Army Armour Formation was the marker during the SA Army Fittest Soldier Competition Opening Parade that was sponsored by the SA Army Foundation.
Photo by SA Army Intelligence Formation

 

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The Samil Tyre Flip was the second “obstacle” of the Intelligence Surprise that CO Mahlabane Mabogoane of 1 SA Tactical Intelligence Regiment had to face.
Photo by SA Army Intelligence Formation

 

 

Cpl Marunane Maphutha (NCG) sliding over one of the numerous obstacles of the on his way to be crowened as the 2016 SA Army Fittest Soldier Champion
Photo by Picture Café

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Pte Noluthando Sibiya of SA Army CTC was surprised when she recognised that she had to carry such a heavy sandbag
Photo by SA Army Intelligence Formation

 

Intelligence Surprise:

L Cpl Ndivhuwo Tshikovhi (A1-6) from 1 Construction Regiment and participants realised that running with a tripot  during the intelligence surprise was not so heavy but so uncomfortable

 

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Senior Soldiers: Generals, master warrant officers, officers commanding and regimental sergeant majors successfully participated in the tough 15 km route in the 4 Arty Regt training area while carrying a weight of 20 kg

SA Army Inf Fmn.     
L Cpl Obakeng Morife
L Cpl Maron Brand

SA Army Armour Fmn.
Pte Portia Kelebone

Swim. Eugene De Wet