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  • Writer's pictureCharles Baloyi

Gongqa's prayers answered as he finds a new club

Former Two Oceans marathon champion Lungile Gongqa's prayers to find a new club have been answered. The Olympian was let go by the Nedbank Running Club in December who explained that the Covid19 pandemic which put an end to road races, had forced left them with no choice but not to renew a number of their elite athletes' contracts including that of Gongqa. This left the 42-year old runner stranded without a source of income. But after his cry for help was published by The Top Runner, his phone was inundated with calls from well-wishers and concerned citizens who also prayed for his situation to improve.

Gongqa celebrates after winning the 2017 Two Oceans Marathon. Photo Credit: Roger Sedres.

The soft-spoken athlete has joined the Phantane Athletics Club in Kwa-Zulu Natal and he will soon jet off to Durban to train with his new teammates. Gongqa cannot wait to leave the Eastern Cape and begin this new chapter. “I signed a one-year contract with Phantane. It is from January to December and it will be reviewed after 12 months. Phantane came to me and asked if I was keen on joining them and I accepted the offer and I am happy that I will no longer sit at home and twiddle my thumbs anymore. I was training by myself and I had lost motivation," Gongqa told #TheTopRunner.

According to Gongqa, Phantane which his the brainchild of coach Mdu Khumalo told him that they read about his struggles on The Top Runner website and phone him to recruit him. “A lot of people saw the story on the website and started calling me asking if I need help with anything starting with food and other essentials. Phantane were among the first to get hold of me and I am relieved that I have found a new home," he shared.

Gongqa is eager to join his new teammates at Phantane Athletic Club. Photo Credit: Mduduzi Khumalo.

The man who represented South Africa in the 2016 Olympic Marathon said he holds no grudge against Nedbank because he accepted his fate and has moved on with his life. He said he would be forever grateful to Nedbank for being part of his life for so many years.

“Nedbank is my past. What is done is done. There is nothing that I can do to change what happened. I am looking forward to the future with Phantane. I am excited about this new opportunity," said an excited Gongqa.

Gongqa is looking forward to racing ultra marathons again just as he did on this occasion when he finished second at the 2019 World 50km Championships in Romania. Photo Credit: Mthatha Street Race.

He said he is looking forward to running the 42km, 50km, and 100km races in the colours of Phantane. “I train in peace and looking forward to doing big races when things get back to normal and we are allowed to run again. I am jogging and working hard in the Eastern Cape but will travel to Durban from time to time to be with my new team. I will do the 21km, 42km, 50km, and the Comrades Marathon next year if it happens. For the time being, I just want to say that I am happy that I have found a new club and want to take things one step at a time. I want to thank everybody worried about me and phoned me and tell them that I have found a new home," added Gongqa.

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