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Josia Thugwane Edit Profile

long-distance runner , marathon runner , athletics competitor

Josia Thugwane is a South African athlete, best known for winning the gold medal in the marathon race at the 1996 Summer Olympics.


Thugwane, Josia was born on April 15, 1971 in Bethel, South Africa.


Thugwane, who is of Ndebele heritage, is the first black athlete to earn an Olympic gold for South Africa. Just five months before the Games commenced, Thugwane was carjacked and shot. The bullet grazed his chin, leaving an inch-long scar, and he injured his back as a result of jumping from his moving car.

The coalmine that employed him paid for his medical care and rehabilitation. At Atlanta, in the 1996 Olympic marathon, a large leading pack stayed in contact with each other for most of the race, until at the 35 km mark when Thugwane initiated a break away and he along with Lee Bong-Ju from South Korea and Erick Wainaina from Kenya. They stayed together until entering the stadium, when Thugwane got a slight lead.

Thugwane finished 3 seconds ahead of Lee for the closest Olympic marathon finish ever. Thugwane had a very successful year in 1997 by winning the Fukuoka Marathon, but then his career went down. He failed to finish in three successive marathons, and finished only twentieth in the 2000 Sydney Olympic marathon despite top ten finishes in the New York Marathon and London Marathon that year.


  • Born in Bethal, Thugwane ran his first marathon in 1991, but his breakthrough to the international athletics scene came in 1995, when he won the Honolulu Marathon. In 2002 he won the Nagano Olympic Memorial Marathon in Japan.