Who is Tebogo Mamatu? I live in Hatfield, Pretoria but was born and raised in Dobsonville, Soweto. I turn 24 on the 27th of May 2019, and attended Hoërskool Monument in Krugersdorp, before graduating from Tuks (Pretoria University) with a BSport Science degree. I definitely do see myself studying further, but for now all my energy and focus is on being a professional athlete.
How does it feel to be crowned 100m champ? It’s truly amazing. I feel totally happy and grateful. Being crowned SA 100m champ was one of the goals I set for 2019, and I’m very excited for this season as there is more to come.
Tell us about Hennie Kriel and his Grigora training team? Working with legendary coach Hennie Kriel is truly a blessing which I’m grateful for everyday. I remember seeing this athletics coach wearing suits every day during training sessions, like he was a professor and I longed to become part of the group. So being part of Grigora is super amazing. I enjoy training with the best of SA’s sprinters as it’s a confidence booster for me knowing that I’m at the right place with the right people. Coach cares so much about helping us to be the best athletes and people in life. He is like a father figure to me. He is so motivating and has big plans for each individual and goals for the training group.
“It’s truly amazing. I feel totally happy and grateful.” – Tebogo Mamatu on being crowned 2019 SA 100m champ
The importance of training with athletes like Thando Roto? Training alongside Thando is the best as he is an inspiration. Before I joined Grigora there was a lot I still had to learn about athletics, and Thando has taught me the importance of hard work, perseverance and patience. Wenda Nel is also in the training group, and I truly respect her work ethic.
What do you love most about athletics? It gives me opportunities to meet and network with different people and travel the world. I love how I get to challenge myself not only physically, but mentally. Then there are all the emotions that come when you’re doing well, but also the fighting spirit when you’re not doing well. The confidence and belief I have in my coach, my training programme and my support structure in helping me to reach my goals gives me great hope and love for the sport.
When did you realise you were fast and could make athletics your focus? I’ve been an athlete my whole life and have been the fastest female sprinter since my primary school days. When I was offered a bursary to study at my high school, I thought if I could get a bursary because of my athletics, then I should focus and take my athletics seriously because it could mean I’m great at this. Ever since I’ve been striving to be the fastest South African female sprinter and one of the best in the world.
Which is your favourite event? I love the 100m because it’s quick and straight; there’s no time to think how to execute, you just trust in the preparation and the process.
In the 100m semi-finals at the Africa Champs in August 2018, you came second to Marie Josee Ta Lou of the Ivory Coast, how was that? Ta Lou is a great sprinter and running with her was fun. I’ve also competed with the likes of Murielle Ahoure, Carina Horn, Simone Facey and Kerron Stewart. It’s a truly great and humbling experience, because when competing with them I can see myself as a sub 11 athlete (Ha! Ha! Ha!). The European Circuit is also great because you get to meet and compete with the best in the world. It is an opportunity to make your mark.
What shoes do you run in? I warm up in the PUMA Speed 600 and compete in PUMA spikes. I truly love both pairs of shoes, because they are so comfortable.
“Ice-cream. I can be disciplined and go without it, but I enjoy ice-cream a lot.” – Mamatu on the importance of diet for an athlete, and the one indulgence she prefers
How do you cope with disappointing performances? I have had challenges and disappointments and the truth is it’s never easy. But I remind myself that to reach the most beautiful destinations I need to go through stormy days and bumpy roads. I tell myself to keep focus and control what I can control.
Best advice you ever heard, or words of inspiration you live by? Accept responsibility for your life and know that is you who will get you where you want to go, no one else.
What words of advice do you have for young track athletes? My advice to up and coming athletes in SA is that they should set goals for themselves and find ways to implement them. A dream without setting goals and finding ways to make it happen is just a dream. Believe and trust in your coach and training. Never, never ever give up.
Looking ahead into 2020? For 2019 it’s to qualify for the World Champs in Doha and to run my first sub 11 seconds 100m. For 2020 it’s to make the Olympic team for Tokyo and to improve my consistency.
You are active on social media, what kind of content do you share with your followers? Ha! Ha! Ha! Social media hey. Well, I don’t post much, but what I do post it is mostly about my athletics journey and just trying to inspire the next generation through sport.
Photo caption: Pretoria-based Tebogo Mamatu is ambitious, and checking off her 2019 100m SA champion goal means that puts in the work to enable her to rise to the occasion. In this interview, Mamatu discusses her roots, her ambition to record a sub-11s 100m, the humbling role of competitors on the track and ends with some advice to ambitious young athletes. Photo: Supplied
With editing by gsport