Comeback kid Sibusiso Nzima praises new coach Parry and targets maiden Commonwealth Games
After a difficult period in which some wrote him off as a has-been, Sibusiso Nzima is on the comeback trail showing that class never goes out of fashion. The 35-year old is enjoying a promising start to 2022 after winning the PMC Family Road Race 10km in Phalaborwa in February and finishing second in both the Dischem Half Marathon and the Motsepe Foundation Race to equality 10km. Now running in the colours of Murray and Roberts Running Club after over a decade with Nedbank, the Olympian says 2021 was a year of change, the fruits of which he is beginning to enjoy this year.
"I'm very happy. Things are coming together. Since I switched coaches and joined a new coach, I'm seeing a big difference. I struggled a lot with injury and there was even a point where I started thinking that I would never run the same as I did before. So I'm just happy that my coach was patient with me and we started everything from scratch. We did a lot of work on the basics and that helped me a lot to bounce back," shared the man who moved from Johannesburg to Pretoria to begin working with his new coach Lindsey Parry in 2021.
A 2:11:43 marathoner at his best, Nzima had last dipped under 62 minutes for the half marathon in 2016 when he ran his personal best of 1:01:44 in Delhi, India a few months after representing South Africa at #Rio2016. But since coming under the guidance of Parry he has begun showing some glimpses of his old speed as he won the Peninsula Half Marathon in 1:03:22 in Cape Town in February.
"We have a long term goal. We don't want to take shortcuts," said the former SA 10km champion of his relationship with Parry. "I took me a year to adjust to the coach's programme. Now we are just working on our speed and I'm happy because before I go longer I must get faster first. But we are convinced that everything will workout over time."
Talk of "going longer" hints at Nzima's mindset for what is left of his career. As he edges closer to forty years old, the man from Randfontein on Gauteng's West Rand says he still has unfinished business over 42,2km. Assisted by training partner and Murray and Roberts teammate Philani Buthelezi with whom he does his speed sessions, Sbu is targeting another major championship in the green and gold.
"The one thing that I am missing is a Commonwealth Games appearance. I'm just happy that my performance is beginning to return in a Commonwealth Games year. So at the SA Champs we are looking forward to run a qualifier for the Commonwealth Games. Because this year is a busy year with World Champs and Commonwealth Games, so if I can qualify for one of the two then I'll be happy. Then after this year, I'll start focussing on the ultra marathons," he concluded.