South African sprint newcomer Anaso Jobodwana will be attending his first Olympic Games in London. It's been a very fast rise to the biggest stage of them all for the teenager. He has surprised a lot of people, not least himself.
The reason for his own surprise was the fact that he was sidelined by injury for the 2011 season. One's expectations after such a lengthy layoff are bound to be modest, but thankfully for Jobodwana he has returned to action with a bang.
In 2010, he had shown huge potential by clocking 20.95 to win the South African Schools 200 metres title, but, given his injury-filled 2011 he hadn't expected to make the jump he has in 2012.
Returned to South Africa
Earlier this year, Jobodwana was based in the US and was studying at Jackson State University at Oxford in Mississippi. However, he returned to South Africa recently because the university system in the US does not allow athletes to compete on the European circuit.
It was in Oxford on 14 April that the former Selborne College schoolboy achieved his first Olympic qualifying time in the 200 metres, stopping the clock in 20.32 seconds, well inside the required mark of 20.55.
It really shouldn't have come as a surprise, considering that he had run a 20.66sec 200 metres indoors in March, a feat which earned him All-American honours. He had also run two times close to the qualifying standard shortly before he made his breakthrough.
The South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee, however, requires that an athlete achieves the required standard at least twice, with one of those being recorded in international competition.
Second qualifying time
With only two weeks to go before Sascoc's qualification deadline, Jobodwana ran his second qualifying time in Velenje, Slovenia, clocking 20.50 to take victory at the 17th International Athletics Meeting in Honour of Miners Day.
On 4 July, he became one of 14 athletes added to the 125 South African athletes previously announced in the Olympic team on 6 June.
Jobodwana's best time of 20.32 seconds, which is number one among African athletes in 2012, places him 22nd in the world this year.
But don't lose sight of the fact that he is just 19 years of age. Jobodwana is likely to improve his performances even more and London 2012 could well play an important role in an even bigger challenge from the South African at the 2016 Rio Games, which was what he was focused on until his unknown form turned out to be better than he expected.
His goal for London is a place in the semi-finals, which is a pretty big one, given the fact that he hadn't even considered qualifying for the Olympics six months ago.
In an interview with the Mail and Guardian, he said: "I want to try and bring my time down - that's the goal at the moment - but I'm hoping to make the semi-finals.
"I haven't set any real targets for the Games, though, and I haven't written anything down, so I'm not putting pressure on myself."
SOURCE: (Written by Brad Morgan for SouthAfrica.info)
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