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Wednesday, August 8, 2012
From Nikiwe Street to London 2012...Addo's own Olympian!
FROM NIKIWE STREET TO LONDON
Whilst Addo, in the Eastern
Cape, South Africa is most famous for one the greatest Conservation stories in
the world (Elephants)…the inhabitants of Nomathamsanqa, the Township which shares a fence
with the Addo National Elephant Park, will be huddled around TV screen’s in the
local tavern’s….eSircleni, Crossroads and Kilimanjaro or in their homes,
cheering on Lusapho ‘Lover’ April in the Olympic Marathon London 2012 on
Lusapho was raised by his
Grandparents, his mother having died soon after he was born, in Nomathamsanqa
Township (the inhabitants call it the City of Nomathamsanqa) Addo. I went to
visit his Grandmother…Georgina Notati April….. (Grandfather died 6 years ago) and
she recalled some stories and proudly showed me his medals.
Up Dora Street
A warm welcome from maKhulu
The Medals rack
Lusapho, known as Lover (but
not for the reason that springs to mind, but because he is so well liked) by
his peers came to visit his Grandmother last month before heading of to London.
Upon his arrival he found her getting ready to go to ‘eTown (Uitenhage) to do
some shopping. He told her not to
worry…he would go. Fully expecting Lusapho to hop into his car….she was
surprised to see him go inside, don his running gear and set off to Uitenhage!!
Once he had done the shopping he went to the Taxi Rank to find the Taxi to
Addo….not for the ride back though. He gave the groceries to a friend in the
Taxi and set off back to Nomathamsanqa!!
Now when I say he got back
before the Taxi, I also need to do some explaining. Unlike Taxi’s in what I
will term First World countries, the Taxi’s in South Africa wait for a full
load before undertaking a trip from one town to another…so Lusapho did have a
start!! Nevertheless maKhulu (isiXhosa for Grandmother) was very surprised when
he arrived home sans groceries!! A short jog (warm down) to the local Taxi Rank
ensured there was a stocked cupboard.
Georgina Notati April...maKhulu
When Lusapho was about 13
maKhulu bought him a canary. And as is well documented…canaries and cats just
don’t gel. The inevitable happened and said canary was eaten by the cat.
Furious, Lusapho stuffed the cat into a sack and set off for Nqurha (some 30
kilometres away) and set the cat free…and dutifully jogged back again!
After the visit to maKhulu,
me and Luyanda Frans (his neighbor and a barman at River Bend Lodge where I
work) set off to meet his first Coach and paid a visit to Vusumzi Primary
School where it all started for Lusapho.
Victor Mtuthuzeli Williams...first Coach
We were warmly welcomed
by Victor Mtuthuzeli Williams, a teacher
at Vusumzi Primary, Nomathamsanqa. He recalled just how talented Lusapho and
natural a runner Lusapho was. Beating allcomers I the district from an early
age. Victor coached Lusapho for about 4 years. He also spoke gratefully about
some of the locals who assisted with transport and any medical problems. One of
these was Steven Marais, a local Dairy Farmer, who’s son Stuart used to compete
with Lusapho and is now an International Xterra Triathlete! Another was Alan de
Vrye, who owned the local Hotel, who assisted with the aches and pains common to
long distance runner’s.
The Tuckshop at Vusumzi Primary at break
Here is a man, Lusapho Lover
April, who chose the hard road. From such humble beginnings it was never going
to be easy….but he will be lining up on Sunday against the best the world has
to offer in the Olympic Marathon.
Our Man....Lusapho Lover April
And all of South Africa …and
especially the people of the Sunday’s River Valley and the Eastern Cape…will be
cheering him on.
maKhulu raised an Olympian!!!
Footnote: The distance from
Nomathamsanqa to Uitenhage is somewhere between 40 and 50 kilometres! Google
Maps will show the scale.
Thank you to my cousin Clive
Read for bringing Lusapho to my attention and Luyanda Frans for making the
necessary arrangements to visit maKhulu and Victor.
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Story by Michael Price - email: firstname.lastname@example.org or michael@email@example.com