'I always tell people to never stop believing in their dreams' - Mashele
Precious Mashele produced a scintillating 5 000m run of 13:11.65 at the Kings Park Stadium last night to book his spot in Team SA's #Tokyo2021 team on the very last day of the qualification window.
It was a dramatic evening in Durban which began when the floodlights stopped working, forcing some delays before organisers decided to move their cars trackside and turn on the headlights in order to illuminate the track. When the race eventually got underway with the floodlights back on, the pacesetters including 2019 SA 1 500m Champion Ryan Mphahlele, reigning SA 1500m champion Nkosinathi Sibiya and Tumelo Machaba laid down a metronomic pace leaving Mashele to cover the last lap in quick-fire 60 seconds sparking wild celebrations.
After missing the qualification mark on more than one occasion and by an agonizing 5 seconds in Cape Town two weeks ago, many in his position would have thrown in the towel. But the 30-year-old Boxer Running Club athlete says nothing beats remaining positive in life and trusting the process. And he says good weather conditions plus excellent pacesetters provided him a great platform to produce the required performance.
"I'm so delighted that I have finally qualified for Olympics games," explained the SA 5 000m Champion. "It's a dream come true for me. We started a bit late as the lights came off but I managed to hold my nerve. The weather conditions were perfect for good times as there was no wind. I always told myself that with the right pacesetters to push me to the 3k mark then I would be able to clock the qualifying time. Today they did well to push me. In my mind, I always knew that I could qualify for the Olympics and after that Pietermaritzburg meeting two weeks ago the coach encouraged me to keep pushing and never give up," said the man coached by four-time Olympian and SA 10 000m record holder Hendrik Ramaala.
Mashele, who represented South Africa at World Half Marathon Championships in Poland last year, says the mileage he ran while preparing for the NN Mission Marathon in Hamburg, Germany boosted him. He believes this is the secret. "Remember, I was invited to run in Germany in April but unfortunately I ended up not going there," said the tenacious runner.
"During the build-up to that marathon, I was on the mileage program since February. Then coming to the track made me strong as well. I started to pushing hard even in training to draw closer to my Olympic dream. I always tell people to never stop believing in their dreams and that pushed me till today. And I must thank all the people from coach Ramaala, Coach Mdu Khumalo, Athletics South Africa (ASA) for organising the race and my club for all the support they have given me. For me now, it's time to prepare for the Olympics," he concluded.