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  • Writer's pictureThathe Msimango

'I'm fully fit to compete against top athletes' - Dark horse Mathanga ahead of Two Oceans 21km

For the first time since 2019, the Totalsports Two Oceans Marathon will take place this weekend. In the past two years, the race was postponed due to the Covid19 pandemic that halted sports events across the globe. This year, the half marathon race is set to produce some fireworks. SA 5 000m record holder (13:04.88) Elroy Gelant, Desmond Mokgobu, David Manja, Philani Buthelezi, and Sibusiso Nzima are amongst the top contenders for the top honors. But MbuIeli Mathanga, who runs in the colours of Phantane Athletics Club remains a dark horse and a dangerous athlete for the crown.

Mathanga in action at the Roma Ostia Half Marathon where he became just one of six South Africans to run inside 61 minutes. Photo Credit: Roma Ostia 21km.

Mathanga was in fine form last year setting new KwaZulu-Natal Athletics (KZNA) records over 5 000m and 10 000m. The diminutive 28-year old runner believes that the race will be highly competitive since most of the country's elite runners will be lining up.

"Things will be tough on race day because all the top runners will be there to participate in the race," explains reigning SA 10 000m Champion."The race is big and it's every athlete's dream to win it. I think we have done all the preparation with my coach (Mdu Khumalo) to be ready for the race. My body is fine and I'm fully fit to compete against top athletes. It feels good to race again with competitive athletes."

Mathanga, who has a personal best of 60:17 achieved at the Roma Ostia 21km in Italy last October, has one target in mind in Mother City - to focus on his race. "My primary focus is to run my race without having to worry about other athletes. I'll stick to the leading bunch of athletes and will see how it goes. I can't predict how things will go and will never put myself under pressure about which position I need to obtain. There is a lot that can happen on the road so the aim is to improve my time and become a better athlete," said the reigning SA 10km Cross Country Champion.

The Half Marathon race takes place on Saturday 16 April and has a whopping prize of R25 000 for a winner.

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