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  • Writer's pictureThathe Msimango

'I have dreamt of this opportunity' - Mjoli to represent SA at World Mountain & Trail Running Champs

South African middle distance runner Nwabisa Mjoli is excited to finally represent the country on the world stage. Mjoli is part of the twenty athletes selected to participate in the 2023 World Mountain and Trail Running Championships which take place in the Austrian City of Innsbruck between the 6th and the 10th of June. The lanky athlete who hails from Umzikhulu a town South West of Durban in KwaZulu-Natal, will compete in the short distance 13,7km event and she is over the moon. "I can't wait to jet off to Austria! I have dreamt of this opportunity and never imagined it will come through trail running. I actually don't know what to say about how excited I am that I'm going to finally going overseas to represent my country," said the 31-year-old Phantane Athletics Club athlete whose selection came after she reigned supreme in the Ultra Trail Drankersnerg 21km in a good time of 2:10:38. Although that was her first trail experience, Mjoli believes her love for Cross Country played a significant role in her victory.

Mjoli enjoying a long run on the gravel road of rural KZN. Photo Credit: Supplied.

"Mind you, it was the first time doing it and I was advised by coach (Mdu Khumalo) to try it. When I also heard that if I win there then I stand a chance to represent the country then I got a bit excited. I think my victory can be largely attributed to the fact that I love cross country and there is no much difference between the two," she told #TheTopRunner. Since Mjoli started working under the guidance of Khumalo she has seen much improvement in her athletic career. Last year, she clocked a lifetime best over 10km when she ran 34:18 during Absa RUN YOUR CITY DURBAN 10K. Her good form continued into this year as she grabbed the KwaZulu-Natal Athletics (KZNA) 10 000m title and then went on to secure the bronze medal in the same event at the ASA Senior Track & Field Championships.

Mjoli on her way to grabbing the gold medal in the 10 000m at the 2023 KZNA Senior Track and Field Championships. Photo Credit: Cuan Walker.

"Before I never imagined myself as the track athlete but coach sat down with me and explained everything. I thank God that I'm working with coach Mdu (Khumalo). The results are showing. Everyone can see that I have improved a lot under him. Plus my coach is an easy person to talk to and plays a father figure role. What he has done for me in a short space of time is amazing," explains, Mjoli who took fourth position in this year's Two Oceans Half Marathon in a time of 1:18:37 Mjoli's mission in Austria is simple; she just wants to continue enjoying herself whenever she is competing. "I won't lie to you, I'm very confident whenever I take part in any race. The reason behind that is that I'm doing well currently so I expect to continue with that rhythm. So in Austria, I'm going to give it my best and the rest will follow."

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