Johnson hopes his Olympic performance will inspire Eden Park laaities to follow their dreams
Rising South African long jump star Cheswill Johnson is shooting for gold medal at Olympics Games which kicked off in Tokyo. Johnson and Ruswahl Samaai carry the country's hopes of a medal in the pit in the absence of Luvo Manyonga, who is serving a four year ban. While both Manyoga and the legendary Khotso Mokoena managed Olympic silver in the event, no South African has ever won the Olympic long jump gold medal. And the man who i the owner of an 8.27m personal best set in February, is aiming to make history.
"It's overwhelming to represent the country at one of the biggest stages and it's every athlete's dream to be at the Olympics," he told #TheTopRunner. "It's something that happens every four years and to qualify for the event known to feature only elite athletes is extraordinary. I never dreamt of being part of this year's Olympics even though I knew that the Olympics would be part of my career. But from a young age, I did wish to be an Olympian."
Johnson, who is currently self-coached with the assistance and guidance of veteran University of Johannesburg jumper Roger Haitengi, says he was inspired by the likes of Mokoena and Manyonga to take his craft to another level. He is hoping that his exploits will leave a mark in his community of Eden Park in Germiston.
"I don't necessarily have someone I would call a role model in the athletics field." explains Johnson, a Logistics student at UJ. "I kinda make my own ways of planning in life. But since I took a long jump career seriously then all these quality athletes that form part of the country's history influenced me to believe in my goals. I'm hoping my achievement will influence people from my community to believe in their dreams. These Olympics are so important because I'm hoping that I will inspire and motivate upcoming youngsters to believe anything is possible. I want to bring any impact and change people's lives too," he revealed.
Now that Johnson is in Tokyo, his target is to challenge for the Gold medal. "I didn't travel to Tokyo to finish last or settle for the finals," confidently said the man who took fifth place at the 2018 African Championships in Asaba, Nigeria. "I know most athletes say they are happy to reach that stage because it a honour to be there. But I don't settle for that. I'm going to compete and my target is to win. That is the positive attitude that sits inside me," he concluded.