Bright Sparks

Johan Cronje • South African Athlete

August 26, 2016
Johan Cronje

Meet Johan Cronje. South African track and field star, Olympian, Sport and Financial manager and all-a-round super nice guy. Johan is a 7 x National Champion who specialises in the 1500 metres event. With a personal best of 3:31.93 he is the current South African record holder in the 1500 metres.

Want to know what goes on in the mind of a pro athlete? We’ll here’s your chance to pick his brain…

Johan Cronje

  • Name: Johan (Tobias)
  • Surname: Cronje
  • Age: 34
  • Profession/Life’s work: SA Track & Field athlete/Sport & Financial Manager
So, what’s your story?
  • Where were you born? Bloemfontein
  • Where did you go to school? Grey College (BFN)
  • Where and what did you study? Studied B.Comm and B.Comm(Honors) at the University of the Free State. Also did a post graduate diploma in Financial Planning Law (CFP)
  • What was your childhood dream? I’ve always loved sport; so as a child I dreamt of becoming really good at a few different sports (rugby, cricket, soccer etc.) – somehow I ended up running around an oval track… And LOVING it!
  • What was your first big athletic event? I would say the first edition of the IAAF World Youth Championships. It was in my grade 11 year; and a big thing to travel all the way to Poland to compete there. Guess that is when the jet setting started.
  • Advice that shaped you career? What you put in; You will get out. In some cases it just takes a little longer. I have learned that from sports and I see it in the business world as well.
  • What gets you out of bed in the morning? New challenges. I’ve realized that I am one of those people that constantly need a new challenge – and I will go at it until I succeed at it. And move on to the next…
  • What motivates you? A few things actually. To provide for my family and keeping them happy is up there, but I love proving people wrong for some reason. So if you really want to motivate me you should tell me that there is no way I can do “something” – and I WILL prove you wrong.
  • How do you spend your down time? Relaxing with friends, enjoying a really good coffee is on top of my list.
  • What does success look like to you? For me it is when you’ve found that something that you love to do and you can get up every morning, and go do it again – then you have succeeded in life! Success isn’t the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you’re doing and work hard at it you will be successful.
  • What are the valuable lessons you have learnt in your athletic career? There are so many, but one that counts for all areas in life is that you first need to do the ‘ungrateful’ work before you can claim the glory at the top. As an athlete you need to do the foundation work before you can step on a track and perform. Same goes in life – you need to put in the hours no one else wants to; then you will reach the heights no one else can…
  • What makes a great athlete? Persistence, Dedication, Determination and Self Believe. And if you have all of that you need to spend 10,000 hours on your craft to became the best!
  • Give me 3 words that describes you best? Persistent, Dedicated and Determined!
  • What are your 3 biggest accomplishments in your career thus far? Well, if you ask that to my friends they would definitely say getting my wife, Claire, to marry me. She is the rock our family is build on and without her I would not have been able to do what I do. Looking at the sports arena I would say winning a medal at the IAAF World Championships in Mosow, 2013, is a close second and perhaps in 3rd place would be the National records I set in both the 1500m (3:31,93) and the Mile (3:50,70).
  • I wish I could tell my 22-year-old self: Do not rush things! You do not need to be the best at 22. Work hard, but smell the roses… Your time will come.
  • Hidden talent: I guess it’s hidden so well that I haven’t found it yet;)
  • What other athletes do you look up to? I’ve had a couple over the years, but recently it is the older guys and friends of mine like Kim Collins (ran a 9.93 100m at age 40), Bernard Lagat (5000m) who will compete at his 5th Olympics Games at age 41 as well as Motteo Tosatto, age 42, who rides for Team Tinkoff-Saxo at this years Tour de France. They motivate me to keep going!
  • What is one characteristic that you believe every great athlete should possess? Hate losing; but when you do take it like a man.
  • What advice would you give someone starting their athletic career? You should know that it is not easy, even though some sportsmen makes it look easy, there is a lot of sacrifices, hard work and suffering behind the scenes. But if you strong enough to endure those – the world is your oyster!

Johan Cronje

  • Colour: Blue
  • Food: A really good prawn curry
  • Drink: A cold beer
  • Sport: Track & Field
  • Sport persona: My friend Wayde van Niekerk
  • Happy place: My bed
  • Band: Maroon 5
  • Car: Ferrari F60 America
  • Quote: “To Give Anything Less Than Your Best Is To Sacrifice The Gift” – Steve Prefontaine
  • Book or Magazine: Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
  • Running shoe: NIKE Vomero

*Follow Johan on Twitter @JohanCronje

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