Olympic dreams, an accident and cricket - the Tazmin Brits story

South Africa cricketer Brits had met with a life-threatening accident in 2011 that snatched her power to walk freely; post recovery, she chose cricket over javelin.

South Africa cricketer Tazmin Brits strikes a pose for Sportstar at Lalabhai Contractor Stadium in Surat on Friday.   -  Vijay Soneji

 

A promising javelin thrower. A world junior medallist. Almost an Olympian. A road accident survivor. And now an international cricketer. Three months shy of turning 29, Tazmin Brits — sporting a tattoo of the Olympic rings on her right bicep — has literally seen more in her life than a larger-than-life protagonist does in an Indian commercial flick.

In 2011, a year after winning bronze at the World Junior Championship in Canada, Brits stepped out with a friend to celebrate the good news of having touched the Olympic qualification mark for London 2012. For a split second, she checked her phone and in no time, she lost control of the steering wheel.

“I was in ICU for two weeks, hospitalised for two months and it took me almost a year to start walking properly and stop being on a wheelchair… Honestly speaking, I shouldn’t have been alive,” Brits recalls.

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She had multiple fractures in her pelvis, a burst bladder along with internal bleeding. However, due to her sheer will power, rigorous physiotherapy, psychological aid and parental support, Brits managed to not only get back on her feet but also return to sports.

“I had played hockey, tennis, cricket before focusing on javelin early on since I thought in individual sport, your fate lies in your hand. But during my second stint, I thought having recovered from the accident, it was better to be in a team environment so I started playing cricket,” she says.

Such was her talent that even before she represented her provincial side, she was selected for South Africa’s Emerging Players’ team and in May 2018, she made her international debut against Bangladesh. Since then, she has featured in 14 T20Is, including the series-opener against India on Tuesday.

In what she refers to as “second opportunity”, Brits admits she is “more relaxed and enjoys life more and tries to live it to the fullest”. But that doesn’t mean she isn’t serious about her new career.

“With the high standards I had set for myself in javelin, I want to now do well for South Africa in the next year’s World Twenty20 and also make a transition into a formidable ODI cricketer,” she says.

Tazmin Brits flaunts her Olympic ring tattoo.   -  VIJAY SONEJI

 

The burly cricketer signs off with her desire to join “a campaign that would create awareness about not using phone while driving”.