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  • Writer's pictureMosibodi Whitehead

Hoff inspires future champions at Thembisa AC Peak Performance Talk

When it comes to inspiring future champions, it doesn’t come much better than Shadrack Hoff. Known for his genuine outspokenness, the former national 5000m record holder (13:11) was one of the star performers during South Africa’s Golden Age of athletics which had it’s peak in the 80’s and 90’s. Yesterday the 48-year old spent some time passing on what he learnt in his heyday to the next generation of top runners at the Thembisa Athletic Club.

Athletes listening attentively as Hoff inspired. Photo Credit: Tumelo Mabua.

Hoff started by preaching consistency in training. "Our athletes like to run around.If he trains with this group and things are not working out nicely then he runs to another group. If not then he wants to come back. They run around. They must focus and say 'let me push two years and see what's going on.' But I always say stick with a coach and learn from him and if the juice is fine there, then drink that juice," he giggled.

Hoff’s message struck a chord with Thembisa Athletics Club boss Donald Mathipa who has been organising these Peak Performance Talks since 2015. Having invited the likes of Stephen Mokoka, Rene Kalmer and Ludwick Modibe Mamabolo to motivate his club’s youngsters in the past, Mathipa says the whole point of these sessions is for aspiring professional athletes to learn from the best.

Hoff (left) poses with fellow athlete Petunia Obisi, TAC Boss Donald Mathipa and Lifutso Mabua who was there to teach athletes about how to manage their brands to make the best of opportunities on offer. Photo Credit: Tumelo Mabua.

“It is about past and present elite athletes coming to our headquarters at Thembisa High School to share with our youngsters what it tales to compete at their maximum best. Our youngsters look up to these athletes for inspiration for what they have achieved,” explained the man whose club has produced 2019 SA 1500m champion Ryan Mphahlele.

The 2021 edition of the TAC Peak Performance Talk took place against the backdrop of the club’s annual summer training camp whose objective is to prepare the athletes for the upcoming track season and the ASA (Athletics South Africa) cross country trials in early 2022. Under the watchful eye of Hoff, a man who represented the country against the likes of Kenya’s Paul Tergat and the great Haile Gebreselassie at the 1994 World cross Country Championships in Cape Town, coach Elvis Khoza put the young runners through their paces. And Hoff was impressed, encouraging youngsters to race sparingly and take risks.

Thembisa Athletic Club athletes training during their December camp with Ryan Mphahlele in action at the back of the back. Photo Credit: Tumelo Mabua.

" I was working for correctional services, I decided to take unpaid leave from work. People think it's easy to get into races, but it's not easy. That's why I took my journey to America and I think that's one of the best decisions I took in my life. I went there with Johannes Mabitle. It was tough. We stayed in Albuquerque New Mexico. It taught us to survive. That's why I went to America because that's where the money is. You get in a race with 10 Kenyans and 15 Ethiopians, but the Kenyans used to race every weekend so what I did is to race every every third weekend 10km or 15km. When the circuit finished, I was second overall," he shared.

In 2001 Hoff enjoyed unprecedented success on the roads on the American circuit over distances ranging from 10km to the Half Marathon where he took second place in six of the races and winning two. The money he earned during that season allowed him to build a house for his mother which she still lives in today. Hoff believes that today's athletes are capable of even more than he achieved provided that they can work hard. "I remember one manager said from Europe that there is no talented athlete in the world as the South Africans and Jos (Hermans) even said that if you want athletes that have a longer span in running, it's the South Africans," he concluded.

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