Khotso Mokoena: “I think I’m half-man, half-croc”

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What’s the difference between South Africa’s long jump superstar Khotso Mokoena and James Bond? 

The answer: The Olympic silver medallist does his own crocodile stunts!

Today in Tongaat on Durban’s North Coast, a dream finally came true for crocodile man Khotso Mokoena as the long jumper leapt over a creek of snapping crocs at Crocodile Creek, which is home to over 5,000 Nile Crocodiles (see how many times we said ‘crocodile’, there?)

“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 Khotso.

“I think I’m half-man, half-croc.”

But why, we hear you cry?

Known for his trademark crocodile leather glove and long socks, Mokoena has always been closely connected with the reptile – he even has multiple crocodile tattoos on his body including the words ‘Crocodile Bites.’

But perhaps the answer to his obsession with all things croc is rooted in his family name. His surname ‘Mokoena’ literally translates to “he/she who swears by a crocodile,” in Sesotho and the animal is the collective identity for the clan.

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Commenting on the audacious leap, owner of Crocodile Creek and crocodile expert Peter Watson highlighted the dangers of the stunt:

“Crocs are most dangerous when in the water as they can propel themselves upwards up to 4 metres with force,” he said. “It was important that Khotso 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. 

The leap echoed the famous scene in the James Bond movie, ’Live And Let Die’ where 007 has to jump a row of three crocodiles to avoid being eaten. In the movie though, Ross Kananga (owner of the crocodiles) actually performed the stunt. Watch below at 3:50:

Khotso, who won long jump silver at the Beijing Olympics will be swapping crocs for the more traditional sand, in his upcoming Diamond League appearances, starting in Shanghai on May 18.