by MTHULISI SIBANDA
JOHANNESBURG, (CAJ News) – HE is aged only nine but already, Romario Valentine has clocked over 500 kilometres on the track and boasts finishing the Comrades and Cape Town Marathons.
These milestones, attained since the Durban youngster started running two years ago, are inspired by a passion to save endangered birds from extinction.
Valentine, who is garnering global stardom, was arguably the youngest runner at the virtual Sanlam Cape Town Marathon held last weekend.
He participated in the 5km run and finished 29 minutes: 25 seconds.
In June, Valentine ran the 5km Comrades Marathon “Race the Legends”, alongside his father, Clive, who is his sports mentor and coach.
“It was a vision that came true for Romario to participate in both marathons as he has ambitions of winning both in the future,” the coach said in an interview.
In September, the youngster from Umhlanga was awarded his 500km badge.
It is at school where he began cross country, aged six and achieved his 100km milestone in August 2018.
He reached 200km milestone in May last year and the 300km also in 2019, in August.
The 400km landmark was reached in May this year.
He runs between 5-6km at least twice a week with his times between 18 and 26 minutes.
Besides his passion for running, Romario is a multi-talented up-and-coming sportsman.
His other passions are golf, swimming, water polo, soccer, cricket and tennis.
CAJ News Africa established he is in his school’s A- Team for swimming, with his strongest strokes being breaststroke and freestyle.
In the Cricket A- Team, he is a medium pace bowler and right handed batsman.
He plays as a striker in football and hockey.
Romario received his KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) Surf Level One Life Saver Certificate last year.
He is receiving plaudits for his work as an environmentalist.
To date, Romario has raised over R30 000 (US$1 822) for bird conservation.
Over the past three years he has 128 beach cleans. Last month, he became Ocean Sole’s youngest Ambassador.
During the COVID-19 lockdown, instead of receiving gifts for his birthday (July 26), he created a fundraiser for a local bird’s park.
He received a Certificate on Excellence from Umgeni River Bird Park.
Romario, whose name is synonymous with the Brazilian football legend, is also a budding artist who mainly focuses on painting endangered birds to raise awareness.
His “Ndebele Girl” painting is currently part of the Zeitz Mocaa “Home is Where the Art is” exhibition running until January in Cape Town.
“I don’t want the birds to be extinct or go hungry,” Romario said.
“My mission is to protect the ocean. Let’s cherish our planet for our future,” he added.
His family is proud, describing him as ambitious, compassionate and an innovative visionary.
“We are proud of his achievements and everyone who has supported his campaign. We will continue to support him in all his endeavours” mother, Delsha Moodley, said.
– CAJ News