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  • Writer's pictureMosibodi Whitehead

'My dream is to get these juniors into running schools' - Late CGA Administrator Hloni Motloung's final wish

For his service to the running community, Lehlohonolo Motloung’s memory will endure far longer than his short life. Aged just 47, the man who was the driving force behind Katlehong Athletic Club passed away on Friday after suffering a stroke a few months earlier which had left him hospitalized and bed ridden. During his time in charge the club, he championed the development of junior athletes for whom athletics was an opportunity to attain a better life. Siyabonga Mbatha who is now a college student in the United States on an athletics bursary is one of those youngsters who benefited from Motloung’s leadership. He says he owes Motloung so much for supporting him on his journey.

"Growing up in the Katlehong Athletics Club, Bhut' Hloni had always been pushing me to my limits. He would always give me a ride back home after training when I didn't have money. He always knew when I was slacking off and would talk to me privately to convince me to come back to training. When I was offered a scholarship in the US and I had to cover the flight fare, he went an extra mile to make sure that I got the money to the point where I had radio interviews every week and donations were coming in. I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for him," he shared.

Motloung poses with the medals after leading Central Gauteng Athletics's team to the Durban International Marathon which also served as the 2024 Athletics South Africa Marathon Championships. Photo Credit: Supplied.

Having made an impact at club level, it was only a matter of time before the Katlehong native would be called upon to contribute at a provincial level. Because of his work helping to unearth and polish talented prospects and his experience as a social runner with a Comrades Marathon medal under his belt, Motloung was seconded by his club to serve Central Gauteng Athletics where he was elected Deputy President of the CGA Road Running Commission at the federation's hotly contested 2022 elections. CGA Acting President Karabo Mabilo paid tribute to him describing him a sports administrator par excellence.

"Lehlohonolo was the consummate athletics administrator who was not only passionate about sports administration but about the development of athletes. He knew his mandate and he delivered it. A true perfectionist, with no interest in dwelling on missed opportunities, rules had to be understood and followed according to Hloni. He stood firm on a lot of things especially when it came to non-compliance with the rules. Besides the fact that he was an affiliated Technical Official he believed in supporting local races and guiding local race organizers to host successful events. He ensured at all material times that he was available to everyone."

With a background in media and a keen interest in boxing, Motloung fought for the voiceless. For example, it was through his efforts that Ntate Isaac Mabula was recognized for putting K1 on the map as being the first man from the Ekurhuleni township to earn more than 30 Comrades Marathon medals (32 in total). He will be most sorely missed by the members of the K1 running club he called home who visited him on his death bed, leaving him perhaps to reflect in his final moments on a life lived helping others. On the 7th of March 2024, weeks before the stroke that would eventually end his life, Motloung penned his thoughts on the challenges facing SA Sport. The article was published in the Sowetan. Like Nelson Mandela before him, he believed in sport's power to change the world, warning that corruption could undercut those gains and must be guarded against at all levels fo sports administration.

"Professional sport in SA has always reflected the political and economic realities as evidenced by racially polarised sporting federations during the Apartheid Era, to the multicultural formations in a democratic SA. Billions of Rand are invested in sports bodies and we have a fiduciary responsibility to ensure these funds are utilised for their intended use. Corruption in sports is not a victimless crime. The victims of the crime are thousands of aspiring athletes whose dreams are dashed everyday by nefarious officials who are guided by self-interest. It is imperative that we uphold the principles of transparency, accountability and integrity, particularly within sports federations."

Future champion Myeki dominating the Boys U11 1200m at the CGA Provincial Champs. Photo Credit: Supplied.

He lived by this creed. Last September 11-year-old Indiphile Myeki became a social media sensation when he showed great grit and determination to come from behind and win his age category at the Athletics South Africa Cross Country Championships in Gqeberha. Viewers watching on the SuperSport Schools App shared the race widely as they were inspired by the kid's never-say-die attitude. What many could not have known though is that this young man who also went on to win the U12 Boys 1200m at the 2024 SA Schools championships in Limpopo, hails from an informal settlement where was discovered, nurtured and coached by Motloung and his team.

"Now he will get a scholarship which is always my dream - to get these juniors into running schools," he told #TheTopRunner after Myeki's victory at the University of Limpopo in March. That will likely be his enduring legacy - the lives of the future champions he touched. The diamonds he dug up and polished for the world to enjoy. May his soul rest in peace. Robala ka khotso Morena.

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