A crocodile looks up as Godfrey Mokoena sails through the air above it (© Red Bull)
A dream of 2008 Olympic silver medallist Godfrey Mokoena for many years finally came to fruition yesterday (29) in Tongaat on Durban’s North Coast, South Africa.
The long jumper leapt above a creek of crocodiles with several more watching from the surrounding shadows at Crocodile Creek which is home to more than 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 delighted Mokoena. “I think I’m half-man, half-croc.”
A special run up was created in the landscape to ensure that the 2008 World indoor champion put his best foot forward.
Mokoena’s obsession with all things crocodilian stems from his heritage. His surname ‘Mokoena’ literally translates to “he 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 four metres with force. It was important that Godfrey 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 more than 30 years since Crocodile Creek was established in the early 1980s.
To perform the jump, Mokoena took time out of his stringent training regime ahead of his upcoming IAAF Diamond League appearances – the first of which is in Shanghai on 18 May.
Organisers for the IAAF