Inspiring young athletes to turn dreams into gold

Coach T - Thabo Matebedi
Coach T - Thabo Matebedi

Meet Coach T – the man responsible for turning dreams into gold medals!

In the realm of sprinting, Thabo Matebedi’s name towers above the rest in Gauteng. Affectionately known as Coach T, this 41-year-old athletic prodigy has earned his title thanks to an unparalleled track record of producing eight African champions.

Coach T's success can be attributed to his unwavering commitment to greatness. He firmly believes that settling for mediocrity is never an option. "I strive to be great, not just good," he laughs, reflecting the mindset that continues to drive his coaching career to astounding heights.

Despite his remarkable achievements, Coach T remains refreshingly humble, both on and off the field. His journey began in Pretoria, where he discovered his passion for running during his high school years. Watching his fellow athletes on the track in awe, he believed he had what it took to outrun them, and so, with the guidance of several coaches, he swiftly rose through the ranks, securing the top spot in the provincial championships.

A few years on and his prowess as a sprinter manifested into an impressive bronze medal win in the 200m sprint at the South African Championships in Botswana. He earned two national colours as a sprinter, surpassing his personal bests at the African Championships in Nigeria with times of 10:35s for the 100m and 20:7s for the 200m. In 2018, he even qualified for the World Athletics Championships in Belgium, cementing his status as an elite athlete on the world stage.

Transforming not coaching

A passion for helping others ultimately led Thabo down the path of coaching. After all, athletics taught him discipline and altered his life for the better, and he yearned to share that transformative power with others.

Thus, in 2006, he embarked on his coaching journey, spending a decade at The University of Pretoria as the head of sprints. During this time, he honed his skills and became instrumental in nurturing some of the nation's finest athletes, including Anaso Jobodwana, who clinched bronze in the 200m final at the 2015 World Championships in Beijing, and Thabang Hlohlo, who emerged as South Africa's fastest 100m sprinter.

Coach T's coaching philosophy extends beyond the track, and he forms deep bonds with those under his guidance, treating them like family. "I keep in touch with many of the boys I have coached. They are like younger brothers to me, and several even visit me at home," he reveals.

In July 2022, Coach T's illustrious coaching journey led him to Curro Hazeldean, where his daughter is a Grade 8 learner.  Assuming the role of head of performance, his responsibilities encompass coaching learners in Grades 8-12, with a specific focus on sprints and high jumps.

“We consider ourselves incredibly fortunate to have Coach T as part of the Curro Hazeldean family,” says Pierre le Roux, Executive Head of the school.

“His unparalleled expertise, unwavering dedication, and genuine care for our learners continues to positively shape the future of our young athletes. Such is the allure of Coach T that athletes and parents alike are willing to go to great lengths to be under his wing. Just last week, I heard of another family planning to uproot from Durban to Gauteng, solely to afford their son the opportunity to attend Curro Hazeldean and train under Coach T's guidance”.

Creating the sprinting heart of SA

Coach T's influence at Curro Hazeldean is undeniable. Twenty of the school's most talented athletes were selected to represent Athletics Gauteng North (AGN) at the ASA National Championship earlier this year, and their outstanding performance yielded an incredible 15 medals. Moreover, four of these athletes have since become South African champions in various under 18 events and Grade 10 learner, Matodz Ndou, is currently the school's under 18 African Champion in the 400m hurdles.

What sets Coach T apart from other coaches is his profound understanding of the science behind running, coupled with his unwavering dedication to his athletes. "I work for my athletes, not just with them," he affirms, emphasising his commitment to serving and supporting them every step of the way.

As he continues his journey at Curro Hazeldean, Coach T faces the challenge of ensuring his learners excel academically while balancing the demands of their athletic pursuits. Schoolwork and personal challenges must be taken into consideration, a task he handles with utmost care.

Looking ahead, Coach T's dream is to transform Curro Hazeldean into a high-performance athletics centre, attracting aspiring athletes from all corners of the country to learn and be coached. His goal is to make Gauteng the sprinting heart of South Africa.

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