'3:31 for me, I don't think will be a big challenge if I keep on trying to win' - King Ryan
Rather tan being excited about his scintillating recent form, Ryan Mphahlele says he feels relived that he is returning to the sort of form he showed when he won the national 1500m title in April 2019. The 23-year old from Thembisa set a new personal best of 3:37.46 when he won the metric mile at the Cape Milers Club Summer Series meet at the Greenpoint Stadium on Wednesday, finishing more than 20 seconds ahead of the second placed athlete.
"Honestly, I feel relieved," he confessed to #TheTopRunner. "It has been a tough three years for me. I hadn't been at this peak before. I had always wanted to be in this shape and this form for a long time and I didn't get the chance to do it. I'm just glad that I'm in this shape and this form at this time of the year. SO now I have something to build on for the rest of the year. It will be actually quite exciting to see what I can do for the rest of the year" said the man who also clocked two sub four minute miles in December.
For his excellent form, King Ryan credits the base training that he did last September. Where most South African middle and long distance athletes spend the December holidays building their base for the following year's track season, Mphahlele started earlier. "I did mine during the cross-country season during winter time. I did my base there. So I was able to compete during December and even now because I have a large base that I built over September and October. So I kept consistent with my training and I think it just shows in the results," he revealed.
Those results of two PB's in three days (3:38 on Monday and 3:37.46 on Wednesday) leave the man coached by Elvis Khoza just over two seconds outside the qualifying standard for the World Championships, which take place in Oregon in the US in July. Although he has stated his ambition of being part of the South African team when it is named, he is less focussed on time and more on winning races.
"I'd be lying if I said I wasn't thinking about the national record," he admitted. Though some may believe that 3:31.93 set by Johan Cronje in Italy in 2013 is a tall order, Mphahlele is less fussed. "The record will come by itself. All I need to do is to keep on running quick times. And when I get international races I just run to win and the time will just come by itself. And that 3:31 for me, I don't think will be a big challenge if I keep on trying to win on the world stage and race internationally," he concluded.
The instructions are clear then for his manager Marcel Viljoen who as a former Top Runner himself understands the importance of competing overseas. Before Mphahlele tackles the European circuit though he hinted that more fast times are in store in South Africa. "All I can say is that my next race at sea level is gonna be very soon. I'm gonna give it a go and try to crack another PB in whatever race I'm running. It might be 800m or 5000m or 3000m or 1500m or whatever race I'll be running I'm gonna run my ass off," he said.