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  • Writer's pictureThathe Msimango

After African Champs silver medal Makhethe sets sights on #Paris2024

After delivering their best performance at an African Champs since 1993, South Africa's athletes have underlined their status as some of the best on the continent. After securing another 11 medals on the fifth and final day of the CAA African Senior Athletics Championships in Mauritius, Team SA finished the competition second behind Kenya on the medals table with an overall medal haul of 36 (9 golds, 13 silver, 14 bronze).

One of those medalists was hammer thrower Tshepang Makhethe who is over the moon after bagging a silver medal last week. Makhethe produced a stunning throw of 68.75 to finish agonizingly close to countryman Allan Cumming who claimed gold with the heave of 69:13. The man who hails from Sasolburg is excited to claim a continental medal even though he felt weather conditions were not favorable on the day.

After winning his second African Championships medal last week, Makhethe has now set his sights on qualifying for the Olympic Games in Paris in 2024. Photo Credit: Roger Sedres.

"It was a very cool day, rain was expected but that wasn't really a big factor. I have mixed emotions about the final result, a lot happened in the build up to the final 3 rounds. My performance was the best I could manage under the conditions. This isn't my first continental medal. In 2016 in Durban I got a bronze at my first Senior show piece, " said the man who also won a silver medal at the 2015 African U20 Championships.

In 2019, Makhethe burst onto the athletics scene when he broke Chris Harmse's 23-year-old winning streak as South African hammer throw champion with a 72.25m throw during the Athletics South Africa ( ASA ) Track & Field Championship in Germiston. Yet despite being the first black athlete to win a SA hammer throw title, Makhethe still battles for financial support.

Makhethe poses with his silver medal at the 22nd CAA Champs in Mauritius. Photo Credit: Tshepang Makhethe.

"Nothing has really changed for me since then. Most of my career is financed by my parents and family, " explains Makhethe, who has Sports Management certificate obtained from Boston Media House. "I was under the impression that all I had to do was finally get the gold medal from Chris and I'll have the offers lining up for sponsorships, especially seeing that I was the first black man to win an SA hammer title. But that didn't happen, 3 years later and I'm still without sponsors or any form of support from external institutions. But also it has definitely put a target on my back to keep performing at that high level for SA throwing. But again, access to facilities is still a challenge for me, I spent the entire last season without a gym."

The 26-year-old former Hoer Tegniesse Skool Sasolburg pupil has lofty ambitions including representing the country at the 2024 Paris Olympics. "I'm looking forward to breaking 80m before I turn 30. That would be a great achievement as well. World Champs are a bit out of the equation right now as qualifying is around 77.50m and my PB is just over 72m, " he said.

Tshepang poses for a photo with his sister Phethisang who is also a hammer thrower. Now 19, Phethisang is a student in the US and recently broke the SA women's Hammer Throw record with a throw of 65.40 in Arizona in April. Photo Credit: Tshepang Makhethe.

"There's a lot of things missing for me to get to that level but I'm pretty sure the gap will be closed, I believe I'm on the right path. Now it's about working on getting to Paris 2024 with my little sister (Phethisang) who is the current SA women's hammer throw record holder at 65.40m. Anything in Europe needs you to be consistently over 75m. Until such time I only have the SA season to try and get my distances up," he concluded.

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