When the word township is mentioned, eyebrows rise and we tend to make conclusions of the place being ‘bad’, ‘dangerous’ and ‘not good for young people’. But, do our circumstances or our past determine our future? The answer is no, because the 2013 SA Sport Woman of the Year Mapaseka Makhanya is a testament that nothing is impossible. Are you ready for a joyride through the life of this woman of stature?

Mapaseka Makhanya (or better known as Mapasexy) grew up in the outskirts of Soweto with her mom, aunt and many different places in the surrounding area. She had a fair childhood and she grew up rather tomboyish as she was always surrounded by boys. If you were looking for Mapasexy, you would find her on the streets, park or playing soccer with the boys.

At a very young age the sport bug bit this talented lady and it wasn’t very long until she started running…just running that is. However, her mother didn’t like the fact that she started playing sport, hence she decided to not support her daughter on this journey.

Mapasexy, being the crazy girl that she is (yes, she is actually a fun person…I have to confess), asked money from her aunts and she started saving her lunch money to compete. Mapaseka didn’t have any permission from her mom to compete at the cross country and track meets, but, having the passion that she had from a young age, she made sure that she was there to compete. Not bad for a girl who had to walk approximately 10km to school and directly after that 6km to training right? Sounds like the story of the great Haile Gabreselassie.

The 29 year old long/middle distance athlete is a great role model to youngsters and looking at her background, one would doubt that it’s possible to achieve what she has achieved.

“Dedication, discipline, love what you do, be humble, respect yourself and everyone around you, but most importantly, be thankful for God” was the words she uttered when I asked her for a few words that will encourage the women of the nation.

There you have it ladies, please take it to heart.

With Makhanya recently going through a ‘dip’ in her athletics, one would think that it is the end of her career. However, she begs to differ, because “I believe God has something very big in store for me. I’m more than a conqueror and that keeps me going. I have confidence in God and my talent and I’m really not a person who gives up”, is what this strong woman said when I popped the ‘what encourages you?’ question.

Whilst we we’re on the topic of encouragement/motivation, I couldn’t help but ask the cliche question that all sport stars are asked; which is: ‘What motivates you?’ She gave me a one line answer which said “Having something to work on and my daughter motivates me in everything I do”. I must say, this is by far not the cliche answer to this cliche question. So, that is Mapaseka’s reason to work so hard in life, what will your reason to work be ladies?

Well, according to Mapasexy’s story, it is clear that whatever you put your mind to, you can achieve it. Being a track, road, cross country or race walk athlete can be very demanding especially when it’s your profession. You have to deal with nutritional issues, physical issues (injuries), mental issues and of course, the issues on the track/road.

I think the most important thing when you are on the track/road ready to run the race of your life is the way you go about running this race when there are stumbling blocks (fellow competitors) on the track preventing you to win? “Knowing that someone might clinch the victory always adds tension” said Mapaseka whose dream it is to build an Academy called the Speed-Stars Academy.

This will be an academy that build athletes not just physically, but also academically and spiritually. Hence, knowing that you are strong in all three those spheres, you will become one of those stumbling blocks that others have to overcome.

Have you recently been through a dip in your life? Do people tell you that you can’t do it?

Do you think your circumstances is ‘not good enough’? Do you doubt your ability/ talents

I can ask thousands of those questions…but the answer will be: don’t give up, you can do anything, nothing is impossible! If Mapaseka Makhanya can do it, so can you!

It always seems impossible until it’s done – Nelson Mandela.

Written by Reggie Nkosana Hufkie
Photo by Reg Caldecott