Mokoena not yet ready to retire
Despite being left out of the Olympic preparations squad by Athletics SA (ASA), long jump superstar Khotso Crocodile Mokoena is not yet ready to hang up his spikes. The four-time Olympian says he will not rest until he makes his fifth trip to the Olympic Games. The 35-year-old who South Africa's only medalist at the Beijing Games in 2008 says he will not give up on his dream of qualifying for the Tokyo Games next year.
Athletics SA (ASA) president Aleck Skhosana maintains that the door is not closed to athletes who have been omitted from the preparation squad. Mokoena said he would knock on the door until the final team going to Japan is made public. “There is still time to hit that qualification mark before the final announcement, and I like to jump in late,” said a hopeful Mokoena.
Better known for his achievements in the long jump, the University of Johannesburg-based jumper will attempt to qualify for his fifth Olympics, but this time in the triple jump. He recently started training, and is working on his fitness level in a bid to become the country's first ever five-time Olympian.
Veteran marathoner Hendrick Ramaala has also represented South Africa at four Olympic Games. The New York Marathon winner's dreams of being at the Games five times failed to materialize, leaving Mokoena with a real opportunity. The man who was Grade 12 when he attended his first Games in Athens 2004 said it would break his heart were he to fail in his bid to become South Africa's most enduring Olympic athlete.
“I took a break, but I am back from training. I have a much better plan for the new season. But I also feel that Team SA would do well in the new season,” he said. Mokoena was supposed to retire in August after the Olympics, but after the Games were postponed due to Covid-19 he put his retirement plans on ice. The Crocodile is determined to jump his way into the history books. “I also do lots of long runs. Whenever I close my eyes, I see myself taking part in my fifth Olympic Games, and for that reason, I won’t stop until I fulfil my goal of going to Japan,” said a determined Mokoena.
At his age most athletes are switching their focus to life after competition. The multiple SA champion is no different. He already runs a company but believes that he is capable of juggling his business responsibilities with his passion for the sport. “I am running a freight forwarding and courier company logistics called YDG express. The experience of working with people is helping me to run this company. Athletics has helped me to use the skills in business, and my clients appreciate this. I have the drive to succeed, and this income is helping me to feed my family in the absence of competitive meetings,” added Mokena.
Mokoena did not see the need to apply for the Covid-19 relief funding made available by the Department of Sports, Arts, Culture and Recreation which, paid out R20 000 to athletes at the height of the pandemic earlier tis year. He also did not apply for the department relief funding provided by the Gauteng department of sport either. “They're athletes that need the money more than I do. I support my family through my business when not competing,” he said.