Maria Mutola is one of the world’s greatest athletes. The 800 meter champion (2000 Olympic gold medalist, World Champion in 1993, 2001, 2003 etc) competed in 6 Olympic games and is often cited as the best athlete in this event. The 800 is notorious in track and field because it’s technically a sprint: requiring speed and endurance, it’s a grueling, even cruel, race.
Mutola is now coaching Caster Semenya, who recently qualified to represent South Africa in the 2012 Olympics. Mutola (who is from Mozambique) has lived in Johannesburg since 1999. This 2011 video profiles her as a member of the Mamelodi Sundowns women’s team. This is a nice look at Mutola’s relationship her two great loves. Mutola started off playing soccer with boys and, like many women athletes, she was recruited to track and field because it is one sport in which there are opportunities for someone with drive and talent. I just love seeing a picture of Maria Mutola with the caption “striker” – as if in her sleep she dreams not of crossing the finish-line first, but of slipping a ball into the back of the net.