Mapaseka Makhanya: Gunning for Mutola record

2013-07-14 14:00

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Running sensation has her whole life planned out and is getting ready for Rio in 2016.

Geared in her training kit, the Spar Women’s 10km Challenge road race champion Mapaseka Makhanya gracefully makes her way into the University of Johannesburg’s Kingsway Stadium for a workout.

She describes herself as “talkative and friendly”, and a “no-bulls****er”.

It soon emerges that the running sensation has her whole life figured out.

She says she has 10 years left in her professional athletics career and she is planning to take a two-year break for baby number two with her current beau.

The 28-year-old athlete has the name of her first child, 4-year-old Naledi, tattooed across her waist.

Born in Soweto, she was raised by her “very supportive” mum Olga Tsale, but says her brother Lebohang (22) has never rallied behind her career.

“He wishes that I could just stop running and complains that I’m never at home,” she says.

She knew from the tender age of 13 that she was destined to become a professional athlete and has had no interest in any other sport.

She was introduced to the sport by her teacher Elizabeth Lepheyane, and by the age of 15, she received an athletics scholarship.

Makhanya was also inspired by the great British athlete Kelly Holmes.

“Kelly Holmes has always been my inspiration, in sports and out of sports. She ran about three Olympics without winning any medals, being injured throughout her life, coming second or third to Maria Mutola.

“But at the end, she won

her last Olympics in both the 1?500m and 800m,” she says.

Makhanya’s journey to success was not a walk in the park. “As a junior athlete

I had it easy because in school there was not much competition.

“I enjoyed the spotlight until I got to the senior phase in university where I just felt like giving up because I was left on my own,” she says.

She is working on a project to develop a cross-country event in Soweto under her name.

Funds from this event will go towards the improvement of sporting facilities and equipment for her community.

Besides being a top athlete, she always aspires to be viewed as a mother and a woman of substance.

“Speedstar” – a monicker she goes by – wants to emulate Mozambican world record-breaking retired veteran Mutola by bettering her record at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

“I hope this achievement, when it happens, will inspire more women in South Africa to join athletics and bridge the gap between junior and senior athletics,” she says.

Makhanya currently holds a diploma in sports coaching and administration from the University of Johannesburg.

Her plans include furthering her studies.

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