A few months before the 2012 London Olympic Games, Banyana Banyana midfielder Mamello Makhabane suffered a groin injury – so serious that she was left behind and missed out on the world’s biggest sporting spectacle.

A few months before the 2012 London Olympic Games, Banyana Banyana midfielder Mamello Makhabane suffered a groin injury – so serious that she was left behind and missed out on the world’s biggest sporting spectacle.

“I knew a beforehand that I was not going to London because I had missed the final preparations of the team due to the groin injury – it was very painful to me that I was not going, but at the same time I was happy for the team. I played my role to help the team qualify, but I was just unfortunate I got an injury just as we we entered the final phase of preparations for London,” said Makhabane.

She overcame the disappointment, accepted that she was not going to be an Olympian that year and moved on with life.

After recovering from the injury, Jabu, as she is know to her peers, continued playing the sport she loves. Four years down the line she is back in contention for a place at the Olympic Games.

When the final squad for 2016 Rio is announced, her name is there and it brings mixed feelings.

“Honestly, I can’t hide my joy, I am excited because this time around I got the opportunity to also go to the Olympics having missed the competition in 2012 due to injury. I think this is a favour from God because he knows just how disappointed I was the last time, so he has given me a chance and I am very excited,” said Makhabane.

But she almost missed out again on Rio due to injury.

Makhabane has been nursing a nagging knee injury that allowed her to play only one international match in 2016 – against Botswana in May.

She spend most of the time in rehabilitation at the training camp to get back into shape.

But now she is over her injury and raring to go.

“When the coach announced my name when we were in the USA I was very excited because, if truth be told, I was not sure that I was going to be on the flight to Rio as I had been nursing an injury. I was really hoping, wishing and praying everyday that I make the squad, and it kinda took me back to 2012, so I cried, but this time it was tears of joy,” added Makhabane.

“So I would like to thank everyone who supported me, who kept pushing me to work harder, my teammates, the technical team for giving me this opportunity because they believe in me. I would also like to thank my parents who were there for me and encouraged me when I was ready to give up again, and also thank God for affording me this chance again – not many are as lucky as I am,” added Makhabane.

Like all the other players, this is a dream come true for her, and she can’t wait to be part of the experience.

“Just going there (to the Olympics) will make me happy, especially after missing out the last time. This is one big step for me, and should I get a chance to play and compete against the top players there, that will make me happier because it’s a great experience for me and other players, and it is also an opportunity to showcase my talent,” said Makhabane.

The Sasol-sponsored Banyana Banyana are in Group E with Sweden, China and hosts Brazil, and the midfielder says they will give it their best shot.

“We are going to face Sweden in the first match of the tournament, and opening games are always tough but we are going there to compete. Our coach has given us the courage to go out there and fight because we know we can do so much better even when we play against the best – like what recently happened in the USA – only if we put our minds into it,” said Makhabane.

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