Trailblazer Blanche Moila Reflects on Induction Into gsport Hall of Fame 

South Africa’s road running legend Blanche Moila inducted into the gsport Hall of Fame in Sandton on Tuesday, 5 September 2023. Photo: gsport / Thuligraphy

Blanche Moila, the legendary South African road runner, was honoured and celebrated as the newest inductee into the prestigious gsport Hall of Fame on Tuesday, 5 September 2023.

Known for her groundbreaking achievements during the apartheid years, Moila’s remarkable journey has inspired generations of athletes. In an exclusive interview, gsport’s Lungile Matsuma sits down with Moila to discuss the significance of the honour, her advocacy for women’s spors, and her iconic partnership with Nike.

Congratulations on being inducted into the prestigious gsport Hall of Fame! What does this honour mean to you?

It’s very humbling. I didn’t expect this honour, I’ve had a long journey in athletics. So I appreciate it. I really really do. It is a great deal to me. I think there’s an inherent need in all of us, in every human being to be appreciated for whatever worth they have, so this just shows that gsport appreciated my journey and what I’ve contributed towards sports.

How do you plan to use this recognition to continue promoting and supporting women’s sport?

The award just cements what I’ve been doing. I’ve always tried to empower young girls; talk to them and motivate them to choose a sport they really enjoy and must persevere. It’s not easy and there are no shortcuts to success. After 40 years, I am getting this award so you gotta be patient and appreciate what gift comes.

In 1984, Nike recognised your value and endorsed you by putting their iconic “tick” on your headgear, supporting women’s sport when others didn’t. Can you tell us more about this groundbreaking moment and how it impacted women’s sport at the time?

As women, sponsorships have always been hard to come by, and if you got a sponsorship, you really appreciate it. And you want your sponsors to also benefit from it. So, it should be a win-win situation. With Nike coming on board in 1984, it was really special for me because, at the time, I probably didn’t have enough finance to get shoes and stuff like that. I was a nursing student. They came along and embraced my talent.

Speaking of nursing, how was that balance of nursing and running?

Balance in life is important. You need to know how to balance it holistically and healthily too. Time was important, my nursing as well as my running. You have to make sacrifices, sometimes sacrificing your social life – there would be days where you’d celebrate after races, but you mainly focus on your careers – both academic and sports. It’s doable. A lot of people say you don’t have time, but you can make time.

In your opinion, how far has women’s sport come since that groundbreaking moment in 1984, and what further progress do you hope to see in the future?

Women’s sport has certainly come a long way since then. We’ve seen Momentum supporting gsport, and organisations like Spar doing a lot for women’s sports through events like the 10km and netball. While we appreciate these efforts, it would be great to see more corporations come on board and offer individual sponsorships for women. We also want to ensure that these sponsorships are earned through dedication and hard work.

As an athlete who has achieved great visibility, what advice would you give to other athletes on increasing their own visibility and promoting women’s sport?

They should talk to other women and tell them about the benefits of participating in sports. There are numerous advantages, such as improved mental health, combating depression, lifting spirits when feeling low, and of course, helping with weight control. But the primary focus should always be on your overall health – both mental and physical well-being.

Photo 1 Caption: South Africa’s road running legend Blanche Moila inducted into the gsport Hall of Fame in Sandton on Tuesday, 5 September 2023. Photo: gsport / Thuligraphy 

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