Josia Thugwane

Last updated
Josia Thugwane
Medal record
Men's athletics
Representing Flag of South Africa.svg  South Africa
Olympic Games
Gold medal icon (G initial).svg 1996 Atlanta Marathon

Josia Thugwane (born 15 April 1971) is a South African athlete, best known for winning the gold medal in the marathon race at the 1996 Summer Olympics. Thugwane, who is of Ndebele heritage, is the first black athlete to earn an Olympic gold for South Africa.

South Africa Republic in the southernmost part of Africa

South Africa, officially the Republic of South Africa (RSA), is the southernmost country in Africa. It is bounded to the south by 2,798 kilometres (1,739 mi) of coastline of Southern Africa stretching along the South Atlantic and Indian Oceans; to the north by the neighbouring countries of Namibia, Botswana, and Zimbabwe; and to the east and northeast by Mozambique and Eswatini (Swaziland); and it surrounds the enclaved country of Lesotho. South Africa is the largest country in Southern Africa and the 25th-largest country in the world by land area and, with over 57 million people, is the world's 24th-most populous nation. It is the southernmost country on the mainland of the Old World or the Eastern Hemisphere. About 80 percent of South Africans are of Sub-Saharan African ancestry, divided among a variety of ethnic groups speaking different African languages, nine of which have official status. The remaining population consists of Africa's largest communities of European (White), Asian (Indian), and multiracial (Coloured) ancestry.

Gold medal medal, generally awarded for first place or a high achievement

A gold medal is a medal awarded for highest achievement in a non-military field. Its name derives from the use of at least a fraction of gold in form of plating or alloying in its manufacture.

1996 Summer Olympics Games of the XXVI Olympiad, in Atlanta

The 1996 Summer Olympics, officially known as the Games of the XXVI Olympiad, commonly known as Atlanta 1996, and also referred to as the Centennial Olympic Games, were an international multi-sport event that was held from July 19 to August 4, 1996, in Atlanta, Georgia, United States. These Games, which were the fourth Summer Olympics to be hosted by the United States, marked the century of the 1896 Summer Olympics in Athens—the inaugural edition of the modern Olympic Games. They were also the first since 1924 to be held in a different year from a Winter Olympics, under a new IOC practice implemented in 1994 to hold the Summer and Winter Games in alternating, even-numbered years.


Born in Bethal, Thugwane ran his first marathon in 1991, but his breakthrough to the international athletics scene came in 1995, when he won the Honolulu Marathon.

Bethal Place in Mpumalanga, South Africa

Bethal is a farming town in Mpumalanga, South Africa. The farms in the region produce maize, sunflower seeds, sorghum, rye and potatoes. The town lies 155 km east of Johannesburg.

The Honolulu Marathon is a major 26.2-mile (42.2 km) marathon in Honolulu, Hawaii. It is one of the world's largest marathons, taking place annually on the second Sunday in December. The marathon is popular for its exotic location in Hawaii, and is also popular among first-time marathoners, many of whom are visitors from Japan.

Just five months before the Games commenced, Thugwane was carjacked and shot; the bullet grazed his chin, leaving an inch-long scar, and he injured his back as a result of jumping from his moving car. The coalmine that employed him paid for his medical care and rehabilitation. [1]

At Atlanta, in the 1996 Olympic marathon, a large leading pack stayed in contact with each other for most of the race, until at the 35 km mark when Thugwane initiated a break away and he along with Lee Bong-Ju from South Korea and Erick Wainaina from Kenya. They stayed together until entering the stadium, when Thugwane got a slight lead. Thugwane finished 3 seconds ahead of Lee for the closest Olympic marathon finish ever.

South Korea Republic in East Asia

South Korea, officially the Republic of Korea (ROK), is a country in East Asia, constituting the southern part of the Korean Peninsula and lying to the east of the Asian mainland. The name Korea is derived from Goguryeo which was one of the great powers in East Asia during its time, ruling most of the Korean Peninsula, Manchuria, parts of the Russian Far East and Inner Mongolia, under Gwanggaeto the Great. South Korea lies in the north temperate zone and has a predominantly mountainous terrain. It comprises an estimated 51.4 million residents distributed over 100,363 km2 (38,750 sq mi). Its capital and largest city is Seoul, with a population of around 10 million.

Erick Wainaina is a Kenyan marathon runner, who won an Olympic bronze medal in 1996 and a silver medal in 2000. He finished seventh in the 2004 Summer Olympics marathon in Athens, making him one of the few athletes in Olympic history to finish in the top 10 at three separate marathons.

Kenya republic in East Africa

Kenya, officially the Republic of Kenya, is a country in Africa with 47 semiautonomous counties governed by elected governors. At 580,367 square kilometres (224,081 sq mi), Kenya is the world's 48th largest country by total area. With a population of more than 52.2 million people, Kenya is the 27th most populous country. Kenya's capital and largest city is Nairobi while its oldest city and first capital is the coastal city of Mombasa. Kisumu City is the third largest city and a critical inland port at Lake Victoria. Other important urban centres include Nakuru and Eldoret.

Thugwane had a very successful year in 1997 by winning the Fukuoka Marathon, but then his career went down. He failed to finish in three successive marathons, and finished only twentieth in the 2000 Sydney Olympic marathon despite top ten finishes in the New York Marathon and London Marathon that year. In 2002 he won the Nagano Olympic Memorial Marathon in Japan.

Fukuoka Marathon

The Fukuoka International Open Marathon Championship, held in Fukuoka, Japan, is an IAAF Gold Label international men's marathon race established in 1947. It is usually held on the first Sunday in December.

2000 Summer Olympics Games of the XXVII Olympiad, held in Sydney in 2000

The 2000 Summer Olympic Games, officially known as the Games of the XXVII Olympiad and commonly known as Sydney 2000 or the Millennium Olympic Games/Games of the New Millennium, were an international multi-sport event which was held between 15 September and 1 October 2000 in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. It was the second time that the Summer Olympics were held in Australia, and also the Southern Hemisphere, the first being in Melbourne, Victoria, in 1956.

London Marathon marathon running race held in London, United Kingdom

The London Marathon is a long-distance running event held in London, United Kingdom, part of the World Marathon Majors. The event was first run on 29 March 1981 and has been held in the spring of every year since. Since 2010, the race has been sponsored by Virgin Money.


Representing Flag of South Africa.svg  South Africa
1995 Honolulu Marathon Honolulu, Hawaii 1stMarathon2:16:08
1996 Olympic Games Atlanta, United States 1stMarathon 2:12:36
1997 Fukuoka Marathon Fukuoka, Japan 1stMarathon2:07:28
2000 Olympic Games Sydney, Australia 20thMarathon 2:16:59
2001 World Championships Edmonton, Canada Marathon DNF
2002 Nagano Marathon Nagano, Japan 1stMarathon2:13:23
2003 World Championships Paris, France Marathon DNF

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  1. "In Marathon, First Gold Medal Won by Black South African". The New York Times. 1996-08-05. Archived from the original on 2008-05-07. Retrieved 2008-08-24.
International Association of Athletics Federations international governing body for the sport of athletics

The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) is the international governing body for the sport of athletics. It was founded on 17 July 1912 as the International Amateur Athletic Federation by representatives from 17 national athletics federations at the organization's first congress in Stockholm, Sweden. Since October 1993, it has been headquartered in Monaco.

International Olympic Committee ruling body of the Olympic movement

The International Olympic Committee is a non-governmental sports organisation based in Lausanne, Switzerland. Created by Pierre de Coubertin and Demetrios Vikelas in 1894, it is the authority responsible for organising the modern Summer and Winter Olympic Games.