It has been quite an eventful year on and off the track, for Phakamisa-born sprint sensation Anaso Jobodwana.
The 2015 IAAF World Athletics Championships bronze medallist, who became a household name during his stay in the United States, shocked many of his followers by returning to the country in late 2016.
Jobodwana admits, though, that it was rather unfortunate circumstances that prompted his return, as it was not his plan at the time.
“I was actually supposed to return there (US) but unfortunately my passport got stolen out of my bag while I was in East London, which then tampered with that whole process,” he recalls.
The 200m specialist then made the decision to stay in the country and continue his career in Durban.
“The move to Durban was motivated by the facilities and how familiar I was with the staff here. I have always come here to work on my injuries so I decided it was a good move for me, factoring how good the weather is.”
The two-time Olympian has been rather unfortunate with injuries since his big break in 2012. It was perhaps that superb performance at his first Olympics that placed added pressure on his broad shoulders at the Rio Games last year.
He spent the majority of 2016 recovering from injury and thus was not competitive leading up to those Games.
That ultimately proved his undoing as Jobodwana failed to make it to the 200m semifinals.
That failure ultimately played a big role in his decision to prioritise his recovery in 2017.
“My first year back has been good in terms of the goals that I set for myself pertaining to my injury and how to take care of myself. The times I ran were not as good but I did not have a set plan for them,” said Jobodwana.
The Eastern Cape speedster, however, concedes that his recovery thus far has not come without its difficulties.
He also cites the importance of mental preparation before setting foot on the track, saying his biggest challenge was knowing that he was not in a space to compete the way he wanted to.
“That in terms of how I had set out my goals of putting my body first. They always talk about the mentality: if you think that you not going to compete, then you are not going to.”
Jobodwana continues to relish the competition in his camp though and acknowledges that it makes him train harder. “I told myself that, if I join another camp I would push myself because I am a competitor. But because I was on my own, I would sometimes feel something and would then hesitate. I have since managed to overcome that obstacle as well over time.”
In the 12 months that Jobodwana has been back in the country, it has been more than just the location that has changed for him.
The former Jackson State University track star said he was feeling more settled now after celebrating his first wedding anniversary with wife Taylor Monae Jobodwana.
“I think I am more relaxed now. I don’t even feel like going out that much now, which I think was always going to happen anyway,” said a chuckling Jobodwana.
He did though stress that marriage does not tamper with his training regimen, and the fact that his wife is also an athlete makes it easier for her to understand.
Taylor, being American, has settled in nicely in the country but, according to her husband, occasionally misses the Mexican food she can’t get in South Africa.
Jobodwana revealed on his social media platform that the couple were awaiting the arrival of an additional Jobodwana, as Taylor is expected to give birth to their first child around March next year.
And while understandably anxious at the thought of stepping into the unknown, Jobodwana was excited about the prospect of fatherhood.
“You are responsible for a whole person, and sometimes you feel like you not even responsible for yourself. But it’s part of the growing process. It was going to happen some day and you can’t know now that in five years time you will be in a better position.”
Back on the track, Jobodwana hopes to conclude his year by clinching qualification for the 2018 Commonwealth Games for his preferred 200m event, having already clinched qualification for the 100m.
Said Jobodwana: “Having had a rough season and still qualify for the 100m was a morale-booster. I gave myself a good two months of training and once I qualified it released a lot of pressure from my shoulders. Now I wait for the next meet so I can try to qualify for the 200m,” he concluded confidently.