The fictional characters Tweedledum and Tweedledee are known to most, but what people might not know is that Tuks got a real-life version – Thando and Tebogo – and they are indeed much faster.
Thando Roto (9.95s) is one of only five South African sprinters so far to have dipped under 10 seconds in the 100m while Tebogo Mamatu has won the silver medal in the 100 metres for the last two years at the South African Championships.
To say that the two of them are like two peas in a pod is no understatement. Where the one is, the other is. They train together, studied together. When one is down the other can’t help but feel the sorrow. They even get to complete each other’s sentences.
So it should not be a surprise that they will start their international 100 campaign together on Saturday racing in Palafrugell, Spain.
After a frustrating two years in which she was forever injured Mamatu is looking forward to racing. Roto predicts that she is capable of getting close or even improves on her best time of 11.27s.
Mamatu biggest frustration is that she seldom gets to be pushed to the limit in local races.
“The only time I know I am in for a tight race is when Carina Horn is racing. Unfortunately, that does not happen often. We usually only get to race each other at the national championships. It means I miss out getting used to being at a competitive edge.
“It would be great if we can reach a stage in South African women’s sprinting like the men. At any race, there are five or more of them that are capable of running 10.15s and faster, so there is no resting on one's laurels.”
Roto sees Saturday’s race as just an icebreaker as the last time he raced was at the World Student Games in Taipei. It was last year. He won a silver medal in the 100m.
Achilles tendinitis prevented him from running earlier this season, and to complicate things he lost a fingernail in a freak training accident.
“I am excited to see what I am capable of at the moment. For the moment I am not even thinking about sub 10 seconds. I know it can happen at any time as I have trained with the likes of Clarence Munyai and Thembo Monareng. I am capable of keeping up with them which shows I am in good form.”
One thing is sure “Mr and Ms T” will be rooting for each other on Saturday.
“When Thando runs a good race that motivates me,” explains Mamatu while Roto brags that he is her biggest fan.
There is a funny story to be told as to how they met up.
Mamatu takes it up by saying when she saw the “sexy” Roto training on the Tuks track she decided to send him a Facebook invite.
For three months nothing happened, then the day after her birthday in 2013 he accepted. From then on things developed quickly. Within an hour they were talking on the phone, and have not since then stopped talking.
It was a coincidence that they both studied sports science, but that turned out to be a blessing in disguise. They became study and research partners. Roto certainly benefitted from this "friendly" partnership. Last year while he was away racing internationally Mamatu made sure that he stayed abreast of what was happening in the lecture rooms. In doing so, she ensured that they both graduated.
The two of them agree that they need to study some more, but are not sure as to what yet. It will be possibly be something to do with commerce.