Anaso Jobodwana’s love for running took off in his hometown, Phakamisa, outside King William’s Town in the Eastern Cape where he was born on the 30 July 1992.
As a youngster, he played in the dusty streets with his friends. All their games had an element of running – and he was great at it. High school opened his eyes to the world of athletics and his thoughts of becoming a doctor, physiotherapist or accountant had to take second (third and fourth) place to his new dream.
Anaso Jobodwana won his first race – an 80m sprint at Selborne Primary School – as a nine-year-old. Shortly thereafter he held a record for the first time in a triangular schools event. But these days his focus has turned away from winning races and breaking records to a singular goal: beating his personal best time.
While he was reaching for the stars, his parents and high school coach kept his feet on the ground and in training. Jobodwana won the 2010 SA Schools 200m race and gained the confidence to truly believe in himself. He competed in the 200m event at the 2012 London Summer Olympics, where he ran a new personal best of 20.13 seconds.
At the 2015 Beijing World Championships, he won bronze in the 200m final, with a national record time of 19.87 seconds.
Today Jobodwana’s goals stretch beyond medals.
He wants to help others who have talent but lack the support to nurture it so that he can pass his personal motto on to them: “aim to be exceptional”.
Jobodwana fresh from his victories in the 100m and 200m at the World Student Games in Kazan, Russia, said media speculation about when he would break the South African records hadn’t affected him.
“I don’t let all that get to me. I focus only on the pressure I put on myself so that I can gradually build my career without trying to live up to other people’s expectations. That’s what gives me an extra thrill.”
Jobodwana matched his personal best of 10.10 seconds in the 100m at Kazan, narrowly missing the 10.06 national record held by Johan Rossouw and Simon Magakwe. He later finished first in the men’s 200m final, crossing the line in 20 seconds, 0.11 seconds inside Morné Nagel’s 11-year-old South African record. But his time did not count for record purposes because it was recorded with a tailwind of 2.4m a second.
Jobodwana speaking about his career said, “The main thing is always trying to improve on my time – improve as much as I can to see how far I can go. All I’m focused on is getting a personal best in both my events; that’s more important to me than records. Focusing on my personal best will eventually translate into records. It’s not about chasing a record; it’s about just getting better with time. Then, eventually, at the right time, everything will happen.”
Jobodwana, who hails from the Eastern Cape, said his athletics aspirations prompted a move to the United States where he is currently studying physiotherapy at Jackson State University in Mississippi.
“I felt that, if I was to further advance my career, I would have to go to the US where I can be part of the collegiate competition, so I took a chance on that and it worked out well. Almost every week you’re competing with someone who is on the same level with, or even faster than you. This prepares you mentally and physically for bigger competitions,” said Jobodwana.
Jobodwana produced a dominant performance so much that he almost had to look back when he beat world champion Justin Gatlin in the 150m at the Liquid Telecom Athletix Grand Prix 2018 in Pretoria as he taunted Gatlin over the final 20 metres.