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Gian-Quen Isaacs is a 16-year-old South African Figure skater who is hoping to make her country proud.
At age 7, many girls dream of being a princess and tea parties, Gian-Quen Isaacs dreamed of being the next Gretzky (after watching my first ice hockey match) or Baryshnikov, never imagining she would fall in love with the ice.
She never skated before watching her first ice hockey match. To reach the Gretzky goal, it was advised that she joined a club to learn how to skate. Within two weeks of joining a club, the Head Coach, Dantin Broodryk, told her mom she has the potential to be a figure skater and linked her with her coach, Megan Allely-Painczyk. Her first lesson day arrived & she arrived in time to watch the seniors train, and she was awestruck. She wanted to do what they did. She attended her first figure skating competition, and she was dazzled with the costumes, makeup, whole competition fee, and silence before a skater skated their program. She wanted to be there, performing, telling a story on ice, executing elements with such precision to show she’s earned her spot on that ice. The moment she fell in love with everything figure skating, she promised herself she will reach her dreams & hockey became a blip of the past. Then the training began. Before school, rush to school utilizing public transport, then back to make it in time for afternoon lessons. She was determined to compete, and a year later, due to sheer determination, she was competing.
Gian-Quen said her journey was not easy or a fairytale. There were no princes to save the damsel in distress or knights in shining armour. There was her, fighting to prove that she earned the right to be here. There were good days and bad days and “I cannot days”. There were good practices and competitions, and there were soul-destroying moments, too many adversities to count, but her need to succeed far outweighed her fear of failure. It took blood, sweat, tears and prayers to be who she is today. Recently, Central Gauteng Coach, Dino Quatro, told her: “Don’t ignore the bad days, be it practice or competitions. They had a significant role to play in the athlete you are today “, and that hit home.
She was afforded opportunities to train amongst the best in the World at the Toronto Cricket Skating and Curling Club in Canada during her career so far. She is aiming to make our country proud by being the next athlete to qualify for the Olympics. Although COVID has made this a tad tricky training and meeting specific goals at a particular time, she is still training hard and fighting to meet all goals set out. She has the following message to the Olympic Athletes “Never let the fear of failure keep you from doing your best; if you’ve done your best, you’ve won”.
In December 2019, Gian-Quen was awarded the Olympic Solidarity Scholarships from the International Olympic Committee (IOC). Gian-Quen hopes to Qualify for the 2022 Beijing Olympics.
Matthew Samuels, age 23, born in Atlantis, South Africa, has been pursuing his passion for figure skating from the age of 6 and has been climbing the ranks in figure skating with quiet determination. Matthew was nurtured into the skater he is today by his previous coach Oula Jaaskelainen who also coached his current coach, Megan Allely Painczyk, when she was still skating. When Oula moved to Canada, he passed the reigns over to Megan to continue developing Matthew. Even though Oula lives in Canada he is still very actively involved with Matthew’s training.
Matthew is the Current Senior Men National Champion and has been undefeated at Nationals for the past 4 years (2017 – 2021). He was also the Junior Men National Champion for 2015 and 2016 and has won several Provincial and Inter-Provincial championships. Matthew won a gold medal at the World Development Trophy in Manila in 2013 and has won several other medals Internationally. He is also the first South African male skater to skate in the Junior World Championships under the new scoring system.
Matthew’s goal is to qualify for the ISU Four Continent Championships, ISU Senior Worlds Championships, and qualify for the Olympics. His dream is close to becoming a reality as Matthew ranked first this past season which allows him to be selected to participate at the Nebelhorn Olympic Qualifying Competition that will be held in Obersdorf, Germany, from the 22 to 25 September 2021, where he can attempt to qualify for the 2022 Olympic Winter Games.
This has been a long and trying road for Matthew, but he has proven that he can still hold his own even when faced with extreme physical and mental difficulties. Matthew has managed to rise above these challenges with a very strong inner circle who believes in his abilities. He has improved significantly even with the Covid-19 restrictions limiting training and funding available to him.
He lives and breathes figure skating, but he loves spending his free time on the basketball court when he has a spare moment. Matthew has a passion for coaching and enjoys sharing his knowledge and experiences with the younger skaters. He is currently a TAP in Western Province, where he works under the guidance of his mentor coaches.
He has several role models in figure skating and looks up to Nathan Chen, Yuzuru Hanyu and Javier Fernandez. When it comes to coaching, he is a big fan of Olympic coach Brian Orser who trains Yuzuru Hanyu, a two-time World and Olympic champion and Javier Fernandez, a two-time World champion and Olympic bronze medallist.
Evan Wrensch was born in 2000 in Cape Town and skates in the singles men discipline.
Recent Sporting Achievements
- 2020 WP Senior Men’s Champion
- 2019 WP Junior Men’s Champion
- 2019 National Junior Men’s Champion
- 2019 Western Province Sportsman of the Year
- 2019 Bavarian Open, Germany
- 2019 Junior Grand Prix, Latvia
- 2019 Denis Ten Memorial Trophy, Kazakhstan
Sporting Achievements National and International
- 7 Time National Champion
- 2018 Bosporus Cup Turkey: 4th Place
- 2018 Grand Prix Bratislava: 2nd Place
- 2013 Challenge Cup Hague: 1st Place
- 2012 World Development Trophy Manila: 1st Place
During 2014, he fractured his leg in an accident and was out of action for most of the season. He came back strong and has gone from strength to strength and has mastered all his triples and triple combination jumps. He is currently working on his quad Salchow, Flip and Lutz.
On Saturday mornings, he gives freely of his time to work with the young up and coming skaters in the Forest Hill Academy and the skaters here in Central Gauteng as part of his Community Service and continue to inspire those around him. He is also a Mentor coach for the younger skaters and coach during the week and on Saturdays. He is a role model for many of the skaters in his area province and his country. During the recent Michael Webster seminar, he was the demonstrator for the course and helped the skaters and assisted at the camp.
In his free time, his hobbies include mountain bike racing and swimming. Evan is an adrenalin junkie and he gets a real rush from anything that has a danger factor. He also loves trying backflips and twisting moves at the trampoline parks. His interests include vintage cars and computers.
His coach, Dantin Broodryk, and the following to say about Evan: Evan is a very talented
skater and has had a meteoric rise through the ranks. He is an extremely hard working and dedicated young man and skates approximately 20hrs per week at Northgate and Forest Hill ice rinks, honing his talent. Evan does daily off ice training and plyometrics and on ice fitness and conditioning in addition to his rigorous training schedule. He also does cross training by entering mountain bike races. He has mastered all the triple jumps and triple jump combinations and has started working on quad jumps for the upcoming season. Over the past 12 years I have seen Evan develop from a little boy who was at times wild, to say the least into a very dedicated and focused young man. We have overcome many challenges and failures as well as savouring the successes of his hard work.
The past season has been no exception, with some really trying periods, as he had to work/train remotely, via zoom during the hard Lockdown, doing lots of off ice strength training and conditioning as well as off ice jumping to keep up his skill level. It was sometimes very challenging to keep the motivation going as it seemed like the return to skating was so far off. Fortunately we are now back to a more regular on ice schedule and the anxiety of the lack of ice to train on is a distant memory.
Evan’s goals include qualify for the Four Continents, Senior Worlds and ultimately the Olympic Games.
In December 2019 Evan was awarded the Olympic Solidarity Scholarships form the International Olympic Committee (IOC). Evan hopes to Qualify for the 2022 Beijing Olympics.