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  • Writer's pictureCharles Baloyi

Kekana unearth's Future Champions in Mpumalanga

Veteran runner Johannes Kekana does not want to take his knowledge to the grave with him. The 48 year old has decided to start ploughing back by training aspiring professional athletes in Mpumalanga. The Limpopo-born athlete has been a road runner for more than two decades having famously won the gold medal in the marathon at the 2003 All Africa Games in Nigeria.

The 2005 SA Marathon champion also discovered and coached the likes of Lucky Mohale and Desmond Mokgobu. Kekana says he wants to leave a legacy by producing more future champions. But his initiative to unearth Top Runners in Mpumalanga is being done on a shoestring budget and he is appealing to potential sponsors for help. “I’m giving back to the community, and I’m interested in developing young talent. My focus is on the under-16 age group because they are easy to manage, and it is the right age to start learning the basics of running,” said Kekana.

Kekana in action during the 2013 Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon where he took 6th place. Photo Credit Copyright: Roger Sedres

Although in the twilight of his career this father of three continues to give younger athletes a run for their money. Kekana still finishes inside the top 10 of many local races and was winning marathons as recently as 2017. The Boxer Running Club star hinted that he could retire in the next three years and wants to motivate kids to develop a love for running before he hangs his running shoes. “I am approaching 50 years and don’t want to go to the grave with the knowledge that I have. But kids want motivation, and I do not have the resources to make it happen. We are in Moloto, and it is a rural village here with no money and resources,”

Kekana after finishing as the first veteran runner at the Benoni Harriers Johnson Crane 21.1km race in a time of 1:12:40 in January. Photo Credit: Rhyn Swanepoel

The supermarket giants donated vests for his group, and some members of the community donated running shoes. “Boxer is helping with vests, and it goes a long way towards motivating the kids. Someone donated two pairs of running shoes the other day. It is not always about money, but the little thing makes a big difference. If I get a little support, I can be able to groom them,” he told #TheTopRunner.

The former City to City champion has started the youngsters on a programme which includes time trials, as he works towards getting them ready to race 5km. “They have to start by running the 5km, then 10km, 21km, and then they can think about the marathon later in their careers,” said an optimistic Kekana. Kekana is hoping to organise a race for them one day. “People should take sports seriously and should learn to support their kids. Do not stand in your child’s way as they could be tomorrow’s Olympian,” warned Kekana.

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