Sasha Zhoya - Athletics' next greatest showman
17 April 2019
ATHLETICS: Wonder-kid Sasha Zhoya burst onto the scene in blistering fashion recently, when the 16-year-old dominated in three disciplines at the 2019 National Track and Field Championships, but his athletic prowess is just the tip of the iceberg for the genetically gifted showman.
Born to a French mother, Catherine, who was an elite skier and a Zimbabwean father, Yonah, a musician - athleticism, precision and timing were already built in to the young prodigy’s blood.
“Mum being a skier and competing at that elite level, gave me the competitive side that I have, and from my dad, who is a musician, I got my rhythm,” the high school student said.
The combination has evidently been a recipe for success, with Zhoya claiming the Australian record in the U18 110m hurdles, nabbing the U20 200m title and breaking the U18 world record in the pole vault, an especially great feat considering the teenager is scared of heights!
Zhoya was one of those kids who could’ve played any sport under the sun, blessed with athleticism flowing through his veins and finding his love of sport as soon as he could walk.
“I always loved sport and played as many of them as I could growing up - basketball, soccer, ice hockey, skiing, but it was my older sister, Munashe, who got me into track and field,” he said.
His success lends fans to believe his experience competing in track and field at an elite level is vast, but it was only two years ago he decided that athletics was where he wanted to focus all his ability.
“As I got older I had to make the decision to choose one to dedicate myself to completely, and I chose athletics.
“It was when I was about 14 that I really fell in love with it and started taking it seriously.”
It was in the pole vault, hurdles and sprints that the WAIS athlete made his mark, but when asked to choose a favourite he said he loves them all for very different reasons.
“Pole Vault is a field event, which is completely different to track. You really get to engage with the crowds in a way that you don’t have the opportunity to do with other events. I want to put on a show that people will remember- field events are great for that,” the natural entertainer said.
“Hurdles are completely different again, it is based so much on technique and I love the science behind it. You could be the fastest guy out there, but if you don’t have that technique over the hurdles, that’s not going to translate to you being the fastest hurdler.
“And sprints… who doesn’t love a good sprint show?” he finished.
It’s evident that the Melville Little Athletics alumni moulds himself after his hero, Usain Bolt, who he hails as a great showman who can really ‘do it all.’
When it comes to how he wants the public to view him as a competitor, Zhoya wants to be known as an athlete who is able to put on a show and keep fans entertained.
“When people watch me, I want them to feel relaxed, because sometimes that is hard to do when watching competitive sport.
“I want the crowd to be able to take it all in and see it as though we as the athletes, are putting on our best possible show or performance for them.
“Everything we do is for the crowd, so we want it to be amazing.”
Zhoya’s love of performance and wowing the crowd is seen throughout more than just his athletic feats, also participating in the John Pierre Performing Arts gifted and talented ballet program.
“I love music and I love contemporary dance,” Zhoya said.
“Music is what I use to get myself into the zone before I compete and dancing is just another way I use that rhythm my dad gave me.”
If his most recent results are anything to go by, the next couple of years are going to be huge for the young phenom. His main focus is on the Junior Nationals in 2020, but the Tokyo 2020 Olympics are also on Zhoya’s radar.
“I’ve got juniors coming up in 2020 so if I’m lucky and hit all the marks I need to, then maybe I can make it to Tokyo 2020, which would be a dream come true.
“Every athlete wants to make an Olympic Team, so to be able to tick that off at such a young age would be amazing,” he finished.
With both world and national titles already under his belt, this is just the beginning for the gifted young athlete and despite his tender age, a Tokyo 2020 berth is not as crazy as it sounds for the teen sensation.