'I'm going for gold' - Desmond Mokgobu
Tears welled up in Mahlodi Ranku's eyes when Desmond Mokgobu told her how running has changed his life. The man who has been included in Team SA's #Tokyo2021 team had been invited to Ranku's sports show on Alex FM last week to talk about his chances of upsetting the East Africans, Americans and Asians in the men's marathon on August 8. But before getting him to predict his finish, Ranku asked the Limpopo-born athlete to explain how running had changed his life.
"I never shared this on radio before," he started. "But I never thought that I would be able to build a double story house in my life and this happened on top of building a house for my family back home," said the man who left Bochum to come and live in the Ekurhuleni township of Tembisa in 2008 in search of better opportunities. He says the advice he got from mentors such as his current coach Hendrik Ramaala and former coach Johannes Kekana convinced him that he could attain a better life by becoming a professional athlete.
"I came from a home where we were struggling and I sometimes envied my friends who came from better financial circumstances," said the Entsika Athletics Club top runner. "I also wasn't good at football, but I was good at running. So when I started running seriously I met people who advised me how to go about achieving my goals. I learnt a lot from them because my dreams slowly came true by applying their teachings to my life," said the winner of the 2018 Beppu Marathon in Japan.
By this stage Mokgobu had all but taken over the Sports Avenue on Alex FM, leaving Ranku with one final question to ask. Could he cause an upset by taking the fight to defending champion Eluid Kipchoge and the rest? The man who has represented South Africa in no less than three World Championship marathon races and is the holder of a 2:09:13 personal was emphatic when he declared that nothing less than the best would do.
"Gold! I want Olympic gold," he said.