Pretoria - Khotso Mokoena is fed-up with being second best. The long jumper has had to settle with the runner-up spot far too many times so far in his career at major international competitions and he has had enough.
Mokoena’s list of career accolades at world showpieces includes: a silver medal in the long jump at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, silver in the long jump at the 2009 World Championships in Berlin and silver at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne in the triple jump.
The 29-year-old, who was South Africa’s solitary medallist at the Beijing Olympics, is on a gold hunt to add to his silver-laden medal case. “I think I have come to a point where I cannot be satisfied with second best anymore. Currently I am ranked second among Commonwealth countries so I have some work to do still,” said Mokoena.
Mokoena will have his shot at gold at this year’s Commonwealth Games taking place in Glasgow, Scotland from July 23 to August 3. The upcoming global spectacle in Glasgow, Scotland will provide the national record holder in the long jump and triple jump with the platform to fulfil one of his outstanding grails. “I consider the Commonwealth Games as the mini-Olympics. There are many things I am still looking to achieve in my career in general. Overall one can never rest on their laurels and become comfortable with what they have achieved,” Mokoena said.
It’s been eight long years since Mokoena tasted Commonwealth success when he clinched the silver in 2006, but this time around only the precious gold medal win suffice.
Although Mokoena has achieved three gold medals in his career before becoming an elite competitor, they came at less distinguished and significant competitions. Mokoena has bagged gold at the: 2008 World Indoor Championships, 2010 Africa Championships and 2004 World Junior Championships.
Mokoena has taken some time off the long jump event to focus on his first love the triple jump. Mokoena has qualified for the triple jump at the Games by virtue of his second ranking among Commonwealth countries. The criteria for selection at the showpiece stipulate that the top five ranked athletes automatically qualify. “For now the plan is to go with the triple jump. That’s where it all started for me in terms of my athletics career. I do not know what the future holds but my aim this year is to get back to the triple jump and test myself.”
It’s no secret that the ultimate goal for Mokoena is one last leap of faith at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. Mokoena himself admitted that he is no spring chicken and expects the Rio Games to be his last Olympics.
“The Commonwealth Games form part of the plan going forward into the next Olympics. I probably have about two years remaining as a top level athlete and I have to make the most of it.
“I feel stronger now that I am older. And with more experience I feel I am a better all-round athlete,” said Mokoena.