A village prodigy turned university athletics champion

In Africa, some young aspiring sports stars, musicians and entrepreneurs find a way out of their villages to the cities through natural talent and or academic brainpower. This was the case for a University of Johannesburg (UJ) student, Keletso Elvis Mokhonoana, who hails from Diretsaneng village in Limpopo Province.

Like many village boys, Mokhonoana was exposed to football as the most played sport among his peers and community residents. Therefore, he has always thought that he would follow football as a career, in addition to his studies. However, this changed through his high school teacher’s (Mr Selepe) influence after spotting Mokhonoana’s running endurance.

Since joining UJ in 2020 as a Transportation Management student, he has had a season that is only a dream to most university athletes. Now is his second year, Mokhonoana was crowned University Sport South Africa (USSA) champion in both the 800 and 1500 meter running distances during the track and field championships in May 2021. He went on to help UJ Athletics win the 4km team competition, mixed relays and overall title during the USSA cross-country championships in Bloemfontein in October.

To him, the cross-country competitions help him prepare for his main events, the 800m and 1500m races. Winning medals in cross-country competitions is a dream for many athletes, but through Mokhonoana’s running prowess, UJ raked in gold medals in the recent cross-country championships.

The youngster has solidified his athletics talent at UJ and has set his eyes on winning international accolades in middle distance running. He aims to qualify for the World Student Games in Chengdu, China, as well as the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England, which will all be organised in 2022.

During his first year at UJ, Mokhonoana was unable to participate in any athletics events due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With athletics championships taking place this year, he burst into the spotlight. He is ranked in 3rd position in the 1500m distance and in 7th position in the 800m distance among all senior athletes in South Africa.

Mokhonoana has also teamed up with Samuel Sepeng, one of the commended middle distance coaches in the country, and the Sepeng running group that trains at the University of Pretoria stadium.

Elvis Mokhonoana In His Community
The rising UJ Athletics star, Elvis Mokhonoana, trains in the dusty streets of his rural community in Limpopo Province.
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