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  • Writer's pictureCharles Baloyi

Family man Mokoka looks ahead to Tokyo 2021

SA road running sensation Stephen Lesego Mokoka is enjoying fatherhood. The four-time Shanghai Marathon champion says the Covid-19 pandemic has afforded him more time to spend with his wife Zinhle and son Reabetswe Mokoka.

The 35-year-old is married to the late legendary marathoner Zet Sinqe. Mokoka and his beautiful wife recently took their two-year-old to a photoshoot. The four-time Tshwane University of Technology sportsman of the year winner said, nothing beats the feeling of spending quality time with his loved ones. But even though he loves chasing his son in the backyard and kicking a ball with him, the 2018 Sanlam Cape Town Marathon winner does not wish for his son to follow in his footsteps and would be happy for him to choose a different career choice.

But if it were to happen, he says that he will support him and he will be there for him every step of the way. “I’m enjoying fatherhood and love my family. But I don’t want my son to become an athlete. My wife is already an athlete, and we can’t all be athletes,” he joked.   Fresh from breaking the SA half-marathon national record at the World Half Marathon Championships in Poland three weeks ago, Mokoka, who is coached by Michael Seme, has already started his preparations for the Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan, next year.

'Tshipi' as he is affectionately known has been included in Athletics SA (ASA), Olympic preparation squad. Mokoka, Elroy Gelant, and Desmond Mokgobu got named in the men's marathon team. The Rio 2016 Olympian clocked 59:36 seconds to smash the national record taking 15 seconds off the previous record that he set in Buenos Aires, Argentina, last year. He finished the race in seventh place to become the highest placed South African at the World half-marathon championships in Poland.

Mokoka and his coach have designed a strict training programme for him to follow in the build-up to the Games. But when he is not on the road with his training partners Glenrose Xaba and Collen Mulaudzi, he enjoys spending time with his son. “My family is everything to me. Before the Covid-19 pandemic, I traveled a lot and did not have enough time to spend with my family. But I got to enjoy every moment with them during the lockdown,” he said.  

Many believe that the man who finished fifth in last year's World Championship marathon has a good chance of medalling in Tokyo. Mokoka says he is now an experienced athlete and will not buckle under pressure. He wants to go to his second Olympics to enjoy himself and its not about proving a point to anyone.

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