"I like the challenge" - Tumisang Pule celebrates first national 35km race walking title
This time last week Tumisang Pule was still on a high after winning his maiden 35km title at the ASA 35Km Race Walking Championships and Open International. Having made a name for himself over the 20km distance, the 25-year-old from decided to step up to the longer event and didn't disappoint as he claimed the SA title at the Youngsfield Military Base in Cape Town on the 28th of January.
"It was hectic - the 35 kay," he told #TheTopRunner. "It was my first attempt at an official 35km race, so it was very challenging. But I train. I train a lot and I do some long distance walks during training. I have done 30km in training so I just told myself if I can reach 30km, then I'll just have to work on that last 5km to be mentally fit to finish that last 5km."
And finish he did. The man who hails from Kagiso west of Johannesburg but now lives and trains in Pretoria walking in the colours of Athletics Gauteng North (AGN), dominated the event winning by over ten minutes from second placed Aaron Mahlangu of Kwa-Zulu Natal Athletics (KZNA) who took the silver medal in 3:03.35. It's the sort of performance that has the local race walking community excited that Pule could be the heir to the throne left vacant by a retiring Wayne Snyman.
Having spent time training with Snyman in the nation's capital and having finished as runner-up to the Olympian in the 20km event at last year's national championships, Pule says he has learnt a great deal from the 37-year-old. "With Wayne retiring and people looking up to me it does give me a bit of pressure. But then I also want to perform. I like that challenge, that feeling when you get that adrenalin and you want to push. Plus even Wayne himself we always talk and the encouragement I get from him is always the best," he smiled.
With the veteran walker in his corner and South Africa hopeful about what he can do on the global stage, the man who represented the country at the World Race Walking Championships in Oman last year believes that international experience is essential for him to rise to the next level. Especially because in 2023, his aim is to reach greater heights.
"I think for us walkers in SA we need that motivation of competing overseas because if we compete here in SA only we don't get that feeling of being on an international stage. Because if you only compete here in SA and maybe qualify for World Champs or Olympics then when get to the start you're gonna panic or get anxious or nervous. But the experience that I've gained is that those guys are just like me so I just need to put in the work, have some support and if I can get a few races oversea then I'll do well."