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Wed Apr 23 16:06:47 SAST 2014

Sepeng recalls his medal run

CHUMANI BAMBANI | 09 July, 2012 07:090 Comments
Hezekiel Sepeng of South Africa is seen after the men's 800 metre event on August 25, 2004 during the Athens 2004 Summer Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium in the Sports Complex in Athens, Greece
Image by: Andy Lyons / Getty Images

HEZEKIEL Sepeng engraved his name in SA's history books at the 1996 Atlanta Games, when he became the first black South African to win an Olympic medal, and also the first male to do so since 1928.

He took a walk down memory lane on his greatest achievement with The Times.

Sepeng is the only 800m athlete to have reached three consecutive Olympic finals since winning silver in Atlanta, where SA finished with five medals.

"It seems such a long time ago," said Sepeng, who also won silver at the Seville World Championships three years later and still holds the SA 800m record.

"The aim in 1996 was just to qualify for the final. Getting a medal was something I was not sure would happen. It was only once I made it to the final that I realised it could happen. I didn't want to put pressure on myself, but one thing I knew was that I would not finish last - I just wanted a good finish. Everything else is history."

He believes that SA can reach their target of 12 medals from this year's London Games, and he expects debutantes to be the ones to fly the SA flag.

"I don't believe that having no experience should be used as an excuse not to bring back medals. If an athlete qualifies then they stand a chance of winning. If you've trained for it, then you can go for it," said Sepeng.

The former SA 800m champ is now involved in talent scouting for Athletics SA, and plans to go to each municipality across the country to find future Olympic medallists.

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