She was born on 21 April 1986, during what the Chinese declared the year of the tiger. The tiger is considered to be brave, forceful and terrifying which are symbols of power and lordliness. Our woman crush is a true embodiment of these qualities of a tiger. Her entire existence has been a challenge, but as chicks force their way out of the shells that confine them, so did our lioness. She did not let her circumstances dictate her fate. “I have subsequently become my biggest opponent. I always set humongous goals for myself and I never accept defeat as an outcome. The sequence of events in my life quickly taught me the value of self-reliance and shaping the direction of my own future. This has groomed the leader in me and rings true to the mantra that I live by, which chants ‘living to lead’. Being in control gratifies the once dusty and ashy damsel within me, whose spirit for a long time secretly cried ‘what next?’. I am a borne leader.”

Ladies, gents and Cats as we seal off 2018 for the last time allow me to say, it is Wednesday and today we are crushing on Sandra Koketso “SK” Malefetse.

She was born and bred during the ages of dusty footpaths in Phokeng in Rustenburg. She currently resides in Vanderbijlpark, in the Vaal. Her Masters Degree in Supply Chain Management paved way to her current role as a Distribution Manager at Johnson & Johnson.

At the tender age of 10, she tragically lost both her parents and grew up in the care of relatives. “Once you get over being an orphan, nothing that tries and stands in your way can stop you.” This shaped her outlook on life, it made her decision making while growing up seamless. It trained her to never sweat the small stuff because she appreciated how short life is to be short-lived. “I grew up with a drive. I had grit. I dreamt big and I turned these into goals.”

She has broken the confines of circumstantial life outcomes. Her upbringing inspired her passion for orphaned children. Her plight is to serve as a motivation for them to never let their circumstances define their destiny and never to let their past predetermine their future. Like her, she wants them to dream big, hunger for more out of life, while allowing themselves to mourn, falter yet embrace the lessons along the way. “I knew very early on that if I am to change my chronicle I had to work harder than everyone else. I put in the work and it was when the Bafokeng Administration funded my studies that the light at the end of the tunnel ceased being bleak.”

Her running journey started during her schooling years as an escape from the challenges that came with being a teenager. “What always played at the back of my head was the need to be better. I had to keep myself under control and I made an early resolve to focus on finishing school”. Running made her quest seamless as it kept her out of puberty mischief. Running has always been the sport she enjoyed and performed well in. It was even greater because it kept her, and still keeps her, focused, refreshed and provides the much needed peace of mind but over and above that it keeps her fit and healthy. “Whenever I complete a run, no matter the distance, I take a deep breath because it always feels like I have shed a load off on the road – both emotionally and physically.” Running has served as a great catalyst to her pushing beyond her current limitatins and has served as proof that with the right mindset, you can and will achieve your set goals.

Due to consistent training, she has become faster, stronger, and more consistent over the years. She is still breaking her own PBs and continues duelling with longer distances. “Vongani Mashile actually is party to inspiring my running journey. It was when he lured me into running 32 km at the club training run in Sunninghill back in 2014 that my loins were fired up for more…” She has since never looked back .

Running, like life, is never without challenges and what she found as the biggest challenge was striking a balance in life. Juggling between being a lover, a relative, a friend, an employee while striving to break PBs. “Waking up at 4:30am daily to train, before heading to work at 6am and then running long distances over the weekend left me with no life at all.” She alludes to the importance of a coach in everyone’s running journey. “Without a coach it is ridiculously easy to just slack and put off training for another day. What you neglect to be mindful of is that missed training takes you a step back from the fitness that you have fought to attain.” Over the years she has learned to establish a workable balance in her life. She has started creating outlook scheduled training and that enables her to have ample time with family and other things that she loves. She is hoping her outlook ways will aid her course as she heads to East London to battle the race she has been flirting with over the years. “I want to surmount Washie 100miler in this lifetime. I had planned to run it this year, 2018, but unfortunately due unforeseen hospitalisation after my successful completion of the Comrades Marathon 2018, this is still an imminent item on my bucket list. God and all the stars aligned, I am going to run Washie next year.”

“I hear, I learn and then I execute! Even with all that life has dished me, God remains the centre of my life. He has unwaveringly made what was deemed impossible, possible. I am at a great place in my life. Each new day is a blank cheque for a fresh start.”

Since 2005, during her first year of tertiary she adopted a home of orphans in Evaton, Vaal . Over the years she have been instrumental in shaping the young souls’ fresh start. She has been serving as a living testimony of lemons turning into lemonade while aiding with basic food and clothing for the children. With her Washie 100miler, she aims to raise funds to refurbish the home’s dilapidated kitchen. “Every child, especially orphaned ones, deserve at least one shot at a better future.”

A flame with a big heart who is only at the tip of her running journey. A fighter! Ngwana! Monyana wa kwa nka go nyala ka thipa! Kwena! Our #WCW Koketso Sandra “SK” Malefetse. Roar #Lioness!!!