Meet the athlete
“My name is Liziwe Mabona and I am an athlete!
This is my story:
I was born in 1988, and started my career in Willowvale, Eastern Cape at Zanenqaba Primary School when I was just 10 years old. With no facilities and little knowledge of sport, we never got far.
I left Willowvale after my father passed away in 2001, and went to East London, where my foster family (the Gcwabe family) was living. They played an important role in my life and pushed me in my studies and running career. I studied at Mzamowethu Secondary School, and I met Mrs Z Gwaxa who started coaching me. She did not have much time, but we would use the break times to train, and then quickly get back to class. My school was behind me at all times – every teacher, including my principal Mr Ralani, would go to the stadium to watch me run. Luckily, I always did well. You would find them jumping up and down, shouting my name!
Budding athletics career
I started collecting titles and representing my province in Border in running, track and field, cross-country, and road running.
I then went to university, where I met Mrs Sandford, a lecturer in the department of Sport Management. She became my coach. She also became my mother and supported me in every way possible, together with her husband Mr Chris.
I qualified for the first time to run for South Africa for the Southern Region Cross Country Championships in Zambia and still represented Border in the South African Championships, while completing my diploma in Sport Management.
It was time for me to take my running career to the next level!
I went to be coached by Mr Seme (he was, and still is a coach to Caster Semenya). He saw that I had talent and he wanted to help me! I went to Pretoria in 2009. Mr Seme was hosting a training camp then and I stayed with him, went to Tuks (University of Pretoria), and studied Sports Science, while also running for the university.
I then went to study at TUT (Tshwane University of Technology) and did a BTech in Sport Management. Tshepo Khoza helped me with training, exercises and massages. My dream came true when I qualified for the World University Cross-Country Championship to be held in Poland and I was the first South African to cross the line! I placed 18th overall and I became SA student champion in 21km!!
2009 Represented SA in Zambia
2012 Represented SA in the World University Cross-Country Championship in Poland
2012 Became SA student champ in 21km
2012 Ran my personal best in Port Elizabeth – Spar race time: 34:18
2015 Ranked 11th in the Spar Women’s Race series
2015 Ran my season’s best time – 10 km in Cape Town Spar race: 35:33
2015 Ran my personal best time in 21km – 1:16 – at the SA Championships
Injury strikes... And the comeback
Unfortunately, I struggled with an injury, and had to stop running for a while. I am now situated in Johannesburg and have a gorgeous two-year-old baby boy Okuhle, who lives with my mother while I am trying to get my second chance at a running career.
This year, I have run a couple of races and have seen improvement already. I am competing in the Spar Women’s Race series and I am currently in 11th position, with the Centurion and Joburg legs left to run. I recently ran the SA Half Marathon Championships held in Port Elizabeth and I ran my personal best time of 1:16, qualifying for the World Half Marathon Championships that will be held next year in March.
To make it in the team was always a dream, and I never thought it would come so soon. I am still shocked and overwhelmed. I remember crying crossing the line, realising what this meant.
Taking her #SecondChance
I am asking for help. I need sponsors to help me with my #SecondChance at my running career, especially now that I have qualified for the World Half Marathon. It could be running clothes, training shoes, supplements, or even flight tickets to my races around South Africa. If you are able to help in even the smallest way, please contact Pam Green #SecondChances. I can’t wait to live my dream!”
Running shoes: UK 4
Racing shoes: UK 4.5, Adidas or Nike
Supplements: 32Gi and Evox advanced nutrition
Update: Liziwe coaches
Update: Liziwe is now a coach for AMPA running club in Soweto and has recently been provisionally selected into the South African squad for the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships to be held in March.
How #SecondChances has helped: We successfully found Liziwe a job as a running coach, sponsors, as well as individual sponsors of clothing, running gear and flight tickets to races.