9 March 2018

South Africa: New Dad Jobodwana Celebrates With Victory Over World Champ

The target of beating a world champion done and dusted, Commonwealth Games-bound Anaso Jobodwana has set himself the challenge of becoming only the sixth South African sprinter to dip under 10 seconds in the 100 metre sprint.

If he has his way, it could happen as early as next week during the South African Championships at Tuks in Pretoria.

His newly born son, Xolani-Parker Dwayne, might not realise it yet, but he's the one inspiring his dad to take his sprinting abilities to the next level. At Thursday night's Liquid Telecom Athletics Grand Prix-meeting (also at Tuks) Jobodwana outsprinted 100m world champion, Justin Gatlin (United States) over 150m. Jobodwana clocked 15.08sec ahead of Roscoe Engel (15.17sec) and Luxolo Adams (15.18sec). Gatlin had to settle for fourth (15.23).

The Tuks athlete did so only a day after becoming a dad for the first time. Due to his sprinting obligations, he couldn't witness the birth of his son in the US first hand and had to settle for watching the miracle on FaceTime, something that has changed him forever.

He says he fully realises that being a father comes with responsibilities, that's why each event he runs from now on will be crucial as he races to make his son proud.

The Tuks-athlete was justifiably proud to get one over Gatlin especially since the American was victorious in their first two encounters on the track.

Moments after finishing he dedicated his victory to his son. 'I fully realise that Gatlin is at this stage not near his best. It was his first race of the season, but I'll be honest it's nice to get a victory over a world champion under the belt. There aren't many athletes that can claim to have beaten Gatlin. It's something I will cherish.'

Jobodwana is not one to rest on his laurels. Sub 10-seconds in the 100m is his next goal. He and coach, Thabo Mathebedi, believe there's no reason why it can't happen during the national championships.

'There are a few small little things we need to work on to ensure that Anaso is that few hundredths of a second faster. The biggest is making sure that he is faster out of the blocks and he drives stronger over the first 20 or so metres to get to his top speed,' said Mathebedi.

His coach is not surprised that his protégé has beaten Gatlin. 'Anaso has rediscovered the confidence in his sprinting abilities. That's exciting. I honestly believe that Anaso can dip under 10 seconds and when he does, a sub-20sec time in the 200m is also a foregone conclusion.'

According to Jobodwana, he was told way back in 2013 that he could dip under 10 seconds, but because of his success over 200m, he forgot about the 100m.

The Tuks-athlete hopes to compete in the 100m, 200m and the 4x100m relay events at next month's Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia. At the South African Championships, he will only race the 100m.

'My biggest challenge until then is to improve my speed over 100m. The only way to do so is to remain a serious student of the art of sprinting.'

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