Mpho fights for glory

Sunday World - - World Of Jobs - XOLILE MTSHAZO

COM­MON­WEALTH Games wrestling bronze medal­list Mpho Madi’s love for am­a­teur sport has not de­terred her from mak­ing a liv­ing by help­ing oth­ers.

She does not earn a dime from wrestling.

She is un­em­ployed, so she vol­un­teers as a child min­der and a wrestling coach, and works part­time as per­sonal in­struc­tor at a gym in Pre­to­ria.

Madi says she finds ful­fil­ment from the lit­tle re­mu­ner­a­tion she gets from teach­ing preschool­ers and coach­ing wrestling at two kinder­gartens in Pre­to­ria and Soshanguve, where she has helped to es­tab­lish a wrestling club.

I find plea­sure and so­lace [in] help­ing oth­ers to im­prove their lives be­cause I was helped to be­come what I am to­day.”

She met her fos­ter mother, Amanda van der Watt, at the Kids Haven home in Benoni, and was in­tro­duced to wrestling at the home when she was 12.

Adopted by the Madi fam­ily at birth, she spent eight years at the home. Van der Watt took her to a wrestling tour­na­ment in 2008.

When I first saw other kids wrestling at the home, I thought the sport was for boys and men. Then the coach in­vited me be­cause I used to watch with keen in­ter­est on the side­lines. I tried it out and fell in love with it.”

And last month, Madi won the women s 53kg freestyle wrestling bronze medal at the Com­mon­wealth Games in Glas­gow, Scot­land.

My other sport is soc­cer and I play as an am­a­teur for the Old Benon­i­ans.

I don’t know, all my sports are re­garded as men’s do­main, but I have come to em­brace them and want to ex­cel.”

Her first big wrestling com­pe­ti­tion was the African Cham­pi­onships, held in South Africa in 2006. She fin­ished fourth.

I was im­pressed with my per­for­mance, it in­spired me to be­lieve it was pos­si­ble to come back home with a medal.

The fol­low­ing year I took part in the All Africa Games in Al­ge­ria, where I won bronze.

It was my big­gest achieve­ment be­fore the Com­mon­wealth Games bronze,” she says.

But she has not for­got­ten her roots. Only last week she won gold at the lo­cal Free State com­pe­ti­tion called the Mielies Wrestling Tour­na­ment.

A mem­ber of the Boks­burg Wrestling Club, coached by Tubby van den Heever, she never thought, while watch­ing WWE on TV, that she would one day be pin­ning down her op­po­nents on the can­vas.

In­spired by her Glas­gow medal, Madi says the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in 2016 is her next big goal.

Qual­i­fy­ing is strin­gent be­cause you have to first be graded and go through the elim­i­na­tion rounds,” she adds.

She also hopes the South African Wrestling Fed­er­a­tion and South African Sports Con­fed­er­a­tion & Olympic Com­mit­tee will give her the sup­port she needs.

The 2007 Ekurhu­leni sportswoman of the year has ded­i­cated her Com­mon­wealth Games medal to her first coach, Han­sie Naude, at the Benoni Wrestling Club, among other peo­ple.

Van den Heever says: Be­fore Rio our next tar­get is the African Cham­pi­onships, then the World Champs.

I have put her into a new train­ing pro­gramme which I hope will get her up to the level of her op­po­nents who beat her in Glas­gow, deny­ing her gold and sil­ver.

It’s a case of having to work harder than we did be­fore go­ing to the Com­mon­wealth Games.”

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