Businesses should invest in local clubs if we want to see more black Olympians - Nixon Nkodima AC
While the debate rages on about the racial composition of South Africa's Olympic team, athletics coaches and administrators working on the ground are calling on local businesses to invest in the creation of more black Olympians. One such elite-athlete-turned-coach is Nixon Nkodima who after narrowly missing out to Josia Thugwane at the SA Marathon Championships in February 1996 was selected as a non-travelling reserve for the Olympic team where Thugwane would go on to become the country's first black gold medalist.
Nkodima is now grooming the next generation of top runners in his hometown of Mabopane, Pretoria. "Normally I teach them from my mistakes," he tells #TheTopRunner. "Because when I was running, I made a lot of mistakes. So by preparing them from my mistakes, I think they will do better. So it's very good, they are doing well. They are promising athletes," he said.
But it hasn't been easy. Because even though Nkodima is working with great potential in the likes of Benjamin Selepe and Karabo Mailula a lack of resources has stifled the club's growth. Fortunately, Good Samaritans in the form of Baroka Funerals heard of Nkodima's plight after watching their story on #TheTopRunner on SuperSport and came to the rescue.
"Baroka Funerals saw us on your programme and heard our cry. So they decided to assist our athletes with club registration, licences and running shoes. It's a beautiful thing. Thank you to Baroka," said club administrator Eddie Setshedi. Inspired by his homeboy's feats a generation ago, Setshedi believes that this investment is a step in the direction towards producing more black Olympians.
"It's a big struggle for these kids. We train at the Odi Stadium which is about 10km from Winterveldt where some of them stay. After they train here they walk back home and some of them don't even have proper running shoes. There are thorns and some of them run barefoot. So with the sponsorship that we got from Baroka, it's going to motivate them to do their best and focus on running. Companies like Baroka are what we need to uplift athletics so that we can get proper representation at the Olympics," he concluded.