Durban - The long-treasured dream of Olympic silver medallist Khotso Mokoena finally came to fruition on Monday in oThongathi, north of Durban.
The long jumper leapt over a creek of crocs with scores more of the reptiles watching at Crocodile Creek, home to more than 5 000 Nile crocodiles.
“This was something I’ve wanted to do for a very long time. It was about testing myself, my mental strength and overcoming fear.
As an athlete, I’m constantly pushing myself, embracing that animal instinct to go as far as I can,” said a chuffed Mokoena.
“I think I’m half-man, half-croc.”
A special run-up was created in the landscape to ensure that Mokoena put his best foot forward.
His obsession with all things crocodilian stems from his heritage.
His Sotho surname “Mokoena” translates as “he/she who swears by a crocodile” and the animal is the collective identity for the clan. The athlete also bears multiple crocodile tattoos on his body, including the words “Crocodile Bites”.
Peter Watson, the owner of Crocodile Creek and a crocodile expert, said working with the reptiles for the shoot had been a challenge.
“Crocs are most dangerous when in the water. They can propel themselves upwards, up to 4m, with force. It was important that Mokoena understood they could be unpredictable and that it was in his best interests to jump as far and as high as he could.”
Peter has been working with the reptiles since Crocodile Creek was established in the early 1980s.
To perform the jump, Mokoena took time out of his stringent training regime for his upcoming Diamond League appearances - the first of which is in Shanghai on May 18.