A dream of Olympic Silver Medalist Khotso Mokoena for many years finally came to fruition today in Tongaat on Durban’s North Coast.
The long jumper leapt above a creek of crocs with umpteen more watching from the surrounding shadows at Crocodile Creek which is home to over 5000 Nile Crocodiles.
"This was something I’ve wanted to do for a very long time. It was about testing myself, my mental strength and overcoming the fear. As an athlete I’m constantly pushing myself, embracing that animal instinct to go as far as I can," said a chuffed Khotso. "I think I’m half-man, half-croc."
A special run up was created in the landscape to ensure that Khotso put his best foot forward.
Khotso’s obsession with all things crocodilian stems from his heritage. His surname 'Mokoena' literally translates to "he/she who swears by a crocodile," in Sesotho and the animal is the collective identity for the clan. He also bares multiple crocodile tattoos on his body including the words 'Crocodile Bites.'
Owner of Crocodile Creek and crocodile expert Peter Watson explains the challenges in working with the reptiles for the shoot: "Crocs are most dangerous when in the water as they can propel themselves upwards up to 4 metres with force. It was important that Khotso understood that the animals could be unpredictable and that it was in his best interests to jump as far and as high as he could.
Peter has been working with the animals for over 30 years since Crocodile Creek was established in the early 1980’s.
To perform the jump Khotso took time out of his stringent training regime ahead of his upcoming Diamond League appearances- the first of which is in Shanghai on May 18.