South Africa

Edward Mothibi attributes Comrades victory to strong family support

Edward Mothibi attributes Comrades victory to strong family support

RUSTENBURG - Strong family support propelled Comrades marathon winner Edward Mothibi to the finishing line ahead of everyone else that took part in the “Up Run” starting at the City Hall in Durban and finishing at the Scottsville Racecourse in Pietermaritzburg.

Mothibi finished the grueling 89 km race ahead of last year's winner Bongmusa Mthembu in just 5 hours 31 minutes and 33 seconds.

"It is not always easy, it is tough, there were quarrels ... before she [my wife] could understand me," the pint-sized, soft spoken champ said.

"When I met her I told her I had a first wife and she did not understand what I was saying, I told her that my first wife is running and if ever she come across that, it means one will have to be 'divorced'." 

The father of three from the rural village of Magoegoe in Mahikeng said he missed his family during the seven weeks training camp at Dullstroom in Mpumalanga.

"I could not see my family for those weeks. It was a very long lonely journey."

Mothibi, who is employed at Impala Platinum Mine in Rustenburg and runs for Nedbank, thanked his training partners from Impala Marathon Club and his coach Dave Adams who helped him to prepare for the comrade marathon.

The runner nicknamed "Slender" won the Comrades marathon on his second attempt.

North West Education and Sports Development MEC Mmaphefo Matsemela said the provincial government was extremely excited about Mothibi's achievement.

"The narratives around  the quotation of our late president Nelson Mandela is quite clear when he says the sports has the power to change the world. Your world, that corner is being changed by you being a champion," said Matsemela.

She was speaking at the Rustenburg leg of welcoming the Comrades champion on Tuesday night. 

"Today coming here everybody wants to greet you, but before we could not even recognise that there is this kind of 'small dynamite' within us as communities ... but today we want to rub shoulders with you, indeed your world has changed. 

"We believed that since your world has changed, and you are realising this and you see this with your eyes we believe that the legacy will be left to others moving forward. 

"We have won as a nation, we have won as the province." 

A victory bus will drive through the streets of Rustenburg on Wednesday, via Swartruggens and Zeerust to Mahikeng were the second leg of the welcoming ceremony will be held.

"The people of North West must feel a touch of a champion. I am so happy that I felt a touch of a champion, we want this to be felt by number of people in the North West province because you have inspired us," Matsemela said.

Rustenburg Mayor Mpho Khunou said Impala Platinum mine has created conditions for Rustenburg to produce Comrades marathon champions.

"I do not think we are giving enough due to Impala for the conditions which they are creating, which allows us to produce champions," he said.

"If Impala did not make it possible for him to give him time [off] to go and train ... I am sure if Impala did not play their role he would not have progressed to the champ he is today."

Khunou said 2016 winner David Gatebe works for Impala, just like Mothibi.