'You do it and want more' - Maxime Chaumeton reflects on 5km SA Record and Paris2024
Updated: Jan 8
While many South Africans will have unwrapped their Christmas presents when they woke up this morning, for Maxime Chaumeton Christmas came early this year. On the 9th of December, the 23-year-old claimed his first national record when he took 10th place in the Al Khobar, Annual Chairty Road Race. In a race which was won by Ethiopia's Biniam Mehary in 13:04 as Olympic 5000m bronze medalist Hagos Gebrhiwet took fourth place (13:09), Chaumeton stopped the clock in 13:18 to become the fast SA man over 5km on the road.
"It’s a thing of dreams at first, but then you do it and you then want more," he said reflecting on his achievement. "Following in my coaches footsteps is a big ask, but not impossible. Records come and go, I’m not too phased about it now. I think the big reward and where I see myself following in my coaches footsteps is using athletics to make a good living. Money is one of the rewards that comes with the records," explained the man who received a tidy bonus from his shoe company Asics for writing himself into the history books.
In addition to flying in his coach Hendrik Ramaala's fast footsteps (Ramaala held the national 10 000m and half marathon records), Chaumeton is also being compared to another one of South Africa's greats. In 1996 at the country participated in it's first Olympic Games under the new South African flag, a 22-year-old Hezekiel Sepeng won silver in the 800m in 1:42.74, to eclipse the previous mark of 1:44.57 set by Marius van Heerden three months earlier. It means that Chaumeton is now the second youngest SA man behind Sepeng to hold a national middle distance record.
"It feels good to get a national record at an early age like Sepeng did. I like being a trendsetter. Last year I was the first South African to run 27 mins for 10km in SA, and now everyone is doing it. So now I’m setting my sights on breaking the next barrier, just like Sepeng did. Sepeng got a medal at Olympics and that inspires me. I don’t just want to go to major championships and be a participant, I would love to go and contend for a medal."
Contending for a medal means that 2024 could be Chaumeton's biggest year yet. Not only will the reigning national 5000m champion be aiming to qualify for his first Olympic Games, but if he can do so, he will make his Olympic debut in a city which is like a second home to him. With a French father and South African mother, Chaumeton grew up in Johannesburg but is no stranger to Paris. He says Paris 2024 is his main target.
"Next year is packed. I need to elevate and I'm fired up to be part of the sport during an Olympic year. This means focusing on the big one which will be the Olympic Games. Other than that, my goals remain the same. I want to set more records and keep on making money in the top races like the one I took part in Saudi Arabia."