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  • Writer's pictureThathe Msimango

'I am very stoked about my progress' - 12:56 and ASA Male Athlete of the Year. Wildschutt starts 2024 with a bang!

South African track star Adriaan Wildschutt opened his 2024 season in spectacular fashion. Competing in the 5 000m at the John Thomas Terrier Classic Meeting in Boston, US on Friday night, Wildschutz produced a groundbreaking performance to outclass the quality field on his way to setting a new national indoor record of 12:56. He also became the first South African athlete to dip under 13 minutes indoors or out. Speaking to #TheTopRunner, Wildschutt who had already secured an automatic passage to the Olympic Games after dipping under the 13:07 qualifying time when he ran 13:02 outdoors for a new SA Record last July, says Friday's race in Massachusetts went according to plan. 

Wildschutt who is the SA Record holder in the 3000m, 5000m and 10 000m, has become the first South African man to run under 13 minutes for 5000m. Photo Credit: Adriaan Wildschutt.

"I'm very happy with my performance. Yes, the main objective was to try and win as well as run under 13 minutes. It is something that my coach and I knew I was ready for. I am very happy about achieving both of those two objectives. Well, to win the race, it required me to be able to finish strong over the last 200m as the field was very strong, and a win would have never come easy anyway. I knew if I won I would probably run under 13 minutes, which turned out to be the case," explained the Hoka Athlete.

The 25-year-old US-based athlete has been in excellent form in the last eight months, setting national records over 3 000m, 5 000m, and 10 000m. Although the man who originally hails from the Western Cape is pleased with the form he has been enjoying, he was quick to point out that his success is a product of hard work and all the support he has received from so many people since moving from the small town of Ceres to Coastal Carolina University on an athletics scholarship back in 2019.

"I am very stoked about my progress over the last two years, more specifically over my first full year as a professional athlete last year. I remain humble and grateful and I hope I will stay healthy and continue to become a better all-around distance runner. A lot of my progress is due to a variety of aspects, including the hard work I put in day in and out, my coaching staff, sponsor Hoka, my teammates, girlfriend Rachel, and especially my family. Big shout out to all of them. Without them, none of this would be possible at all," he shared. 

Fourie on her way to smashing the SA record by almost two tenths of a second in Switzerland last July. Photo Credit: La Chaux-de-Fonds meet.

In recognition of the success that he enjoyed in 2023, Wildschutt was named Athletics South Africa Male Athlete of the year at a glitzy awards ceremony which took place the Southern Sun Hotel, OR Tambo last night (Saturday 27 January). Wildschutt got the nod ahead of Thabang Mosiako, Ryan Mphahlele, Precious Mashele and Wayde van Niekerk. The Female Athlete of The Year went to 100m hurdler Marione Fourie who set a new national record and reached the semi-finals in her event at the World Championships in Budapest, while Mosiako's coach Michael Mbambani took home the Coach of the Year Award.

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