text and photos by Brett Larner
Sanlam Cape Town Marathon and 10 km road race, 1996 Atlanta Olympics marathon gold medalist Josiah Thugwane and Japan’s iconoclastic civil servant runner Yuki Kawauchi traveled to the Kayamandi township outside Stellenbosch to speak to local children taking part in the songo.info program. A community with over 100 years of history, the 33,000 residents of Kayamandi live in extreme conditions of poverty in the hills overlooking the wealthy winery town of Stellenbosch. Thugwane and Kawauchi were taken on a walking tour of the community to see with their own eyes the situation in which the songo.info program's children live and the challenges they face.
Endurocad long distance development program, Thugwane and Kawauchi spoke to the crowd of more than fifty children in the songo.info building. Few realized who Thugwane was when he entered the room, but when Fipaza introduced him and said his name there was a wave of gasps as the children recognized it as that of a legend from a time before they were born. The champion still lingering inside the soft-spoken Thugwane emerged as he delivered an impassioned speech on self-belief and the drive to overcome adversity that led him to become the first black South African Olympic gold medalist.
who represented South Africa in 2013 as its first black athlete ever to compete in the Downhill World Championships, asked Thugwane how it felt to compete at the Olympics and listened with rapt attention as Thugwane described his experience of rising from nothing to beat the world’s best. Afterwards Ngubane spoke to Thugwane and Kawauchi about his ambition to become a cycle designer and start his own company to produce world-class racing bikes within his community if he can find a design program that will take him.
For more information on the Kayamandi program visit www.songo.info
(c) 2015 Brett Larner
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