Shaun Maswanganyi is a South African athlete who has made a name for himself in the US. The stunner recently qualified for the Tokyo Olympics after years of hard work and spoke to Briefly News about living in the US, family life and how he started his career.
South African track athlete Shaun Maswanganyi has had quite the journey and recently bagged himself a spot in the Tokyo Olympics, which will be commencing on Friday, 23 July.
Speaking exclusively to Briefly News, Shaun opened up on how he's feeling about competing on the world stage; he also spoke about his journey in sports and it didn't all start with track. Shaun is multitalented in many sports but he decided that athletics was where he belonged.
Shaun said that his coach is the one who played a big part in him becoming a track athlete.
"He saw my talent in pretty much every sport I took part in. When it came to rugby, basketball and soccer. So he saw my speed and jumping ability," he said.
Once he started getting better at running, Shaun started making big moves
The athlete was pleased when he started getting better at running. As he learned more about the ins and outs of the sport, he found his passion and fell in love. Shaun didn't think that he would make it this far but he's pleased with the results of his hard work.
He used to compete in the long jump and actually won his first South African title after he had been training for only four months. After competing in sprinting, he saw that the sky was the limit and kept pushing. He then spoke about his qualification in the upcoming Olympics in Tokyo.
"It was a very tough journey. There have been times where I've contemplated quitting track and field. I was thinking that rugby would be a lot easier, or basketball. I wouldn't feel as dizzy during training with these events," Shaun told Briefly News.
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Shaun held on and said that he decided to stick to his purpose. He made a promise to his grandmother before she passed away that he would compete on an international scale.
When he was in matric, he fulfilled her wish and competed in the African Championships, winning the 100m race and coming second in the 200m event. The young star said that there were many challenges and injuries. Sometimes he felt like he didn't know what to do.
"What kept me going is the promise I made to my grandmother. Even today, that promise still lives on. I'm glad I've actually fulfilled it," he said.
Shaun Maswanganyi touches on what it's like living in a different country
Although things have been hard at times, Shaun is grateful for the support he's received and believes that his support system is what kept him going. He's currently studying for a degree in Finance at the University of Houston and spoke about how life has been in the US.
"I wanted a different challenge. I wanted to really get a feel of American competition because I heard that they are the best when it comes to sprints. I like being in an environment where I have to push myself, not only in track but also for my degree," said Shaun.
He also said that he's enjoying life abroad. The culture is different definitely but he's gotten used to it. Shaun goes out occasionally for lunches and some get-togethers but things aren't so cut-and-dried in the US.
"For the most part, I'm a reserved guy and I like to stay at home. Things you would consider normal in South Africa aren't normal that side. They don't even know what milk tarts are, for example," he said.
Shaun says that the food aspect of living in the US is different for him and people there are very diverse. He enjoys Caribbean food though and said that it was really good the last time he had a meal.
Sprinting gives Shaun Maswanganyi an adrenaline rush and he loves it
Back to athletics, Shaun said that the adrenaline rush he gets when competing is what gets him going. He loves how invested the crowd gets and enjoys the energy around the whole stadium when an event is taking place.
"Track has a lot of support in the US than South Africa does. The competition in the US is very rigorous, tough and challenging but it kind of forces you to level up and boss up," said Shaun.
Speaking about his family's reaction to his Olympics qualification, Shaun said that his people were very supportive and joyous when he made it.
"The challenges I had as a kid, changing school and growing up in a township. I started getting scholarships and my perseverance and dedication paid off. People thought I was a lazy kid," he said.
Outside of athletics, Shaun loves basketball and he's a big fan of NBA player LeBron James. Speaking about his personality, he says that he's a very outgoing guy. He even has a YouTube channel where he details his life in track but wants to start making more vlogs living life.
The athlete feels grateful to get the chance to represent South Africa in the Olympics. He also spoke about Covid-19 and how this will affect the worldwide event.
"Like every other pandemic we've had, it will pass soon. It will affect the games because they are being strict. We're going to have to wear masks 24/7. It's going to be a strict mandate and they won't tolerate people not wearing masks without a good reason."
Percy Tau to Miss South Africa U/23 Contention in Tokyo Olympics
In other sports news, Briefly News reported that The South Africa Under-23 squad will be a player poorer as Brighton & Hove Albion have reportedly denied Percy Tau a crack at the Tokyo Olympic Games, which run from 23 July to 8 August.
The services of arguably the country’s current best player would have been a welcome inclusion to coach David Notoane, who revealed that Tau would no longer be making an appearance at the Asian global spectacle.
Albion's reasons for declining to release the forward are presently unclear with the 27-year-old initially being an integral part of Notoane's plans as one of three over-aged players included in the squad.
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