Mpho fights for glory
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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