Hezekiel Sepeng

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South African athlete of international stature, who became a Commonwealth Games and Olympic Games Silver Medallist

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Last name: 
Date of birth: 
30 June 1974
Location of birth: 
Potchestroom, Western Transvaal (now North West Province), South Africa

Hezekiel Sepeng was born on 30 June 1974 in Potchestroom, Western Transvaal. At primary school he began to show the natural talent of a good marathon runner. 

Sepeng’s running talent was spotted in one of J.P. van der Merwe’s coaching clinics in the township outside Potchestroom. Knowing that Sepeng’s true potential would be best realised in an environment that nurtured his ability, he was afforded entrance to the only available local place for this: Potchefstroom Boys High School. An uphill battle to register the Black youth in an Afrikaans school eventually succeeded. Once settled there, Sepeng excelled in most school athletic meetings. Sepeng is a former student of the Rand Afrikaans University.

In 1993 Sepeng qualified for the World Championships in Stuggart, Germany. In the final he finished 5th, an amazing achievement for someone without European experience. In the same year he attended the Commonwealth Games in England, where he won a silver medal. In 1995 he won a gold medal at the World Championship in Rome. Having won numerous medals and setting the South African Record on 800 metres, his greatest achievement was in 1996 where he won South Africa’s only silver medal at the Olympic Games in Atlanta, USA. There he set the new South African Record of 1:42:86.

In 2000 Sepeng achieved 7th place at the Sydney Olympics. In 2004 he was omitted from the list of Olympic athletes representing South Africa. His non-fulfillment of qualifying criteria was cited as a reason. This decision was later reversed and Sepeng was fined R50 000, suspended for three years.

Sepeng currently stays in Potchestroom and has replaced his long-time coach JP van der Merwe with Jean Verser, himself an accomplished 1500m athlete. Sepeng is married and the couple in 2004 became proud parents of two boys, Raymond and Hezekiel Junior.

Last updated : 01-Nov-2011

This article was produced by South African History Online on 17-Feb-2011

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