'I'm not feeling the pressure' - Tete Dijana
With less than two weeks to go before the 2023 Comrades Marathon, the reigning champion Tete Dijana says he is not feeling pressure to defend his title. Dijana who clocked 5:30:38 on his way to a maiden victory last year, has been doing final preparations for the 96th edition of the race at a high altitude training camp in Dullstrom. The 34-year-old says the camp has gone according to plan and they are ready for the 11th of June.
"The training has gone well up and I'm feeling good. The 2022 camp was way different as we had so many injuries, the muscles were not used to the training we were doing compared to this one. I'm positive now and injury free," he told #TheTopRunner.
Dijana has managed to carry his good 2022 form into 2023. In February, he produced a brilliant run of 2:39:04 to scorch to a new world 50km record during the Nedbank Runfied Breakiing Barriers race in Gqeberha. It means that he is being touted as the favourite to win the 89km race from Pietermaritzburg to Durban. Despite this, the man who is originally from Mmabatho says he won't put himself under any undue pressure.
"Obviously since I broke the record, I know what challenges I would face and how to deal with it. I know what to expect on the 11th. You know they will have lot of work to do because I'm not alone. I'm with the guys and alone I won't make it. They have pressure but on my side I don't have pressure. When the time is right, I know what to do, how and when. But I'll have a careful race," said the man who is coached by Dave Adams when asked about his competitors.
The guys he speaks about are his Nedbank Running Club teammates and training partners 2019 Comrades champion Edward Mothibi and gold medalists Dan Matshaliwe, Johannes Makgetla and Joseph Manyedi. Also present at the camp which ends next week are Adele Broodryk and Galaletsang Mekgoe who will be looking to once again earn gold medals in the women's race. For this reason Nedbank Running Club National Manager Nick Bester is confident that they can do even better than the unprecedented seven gold medals that the team earned last year.
“Last year we only had one camp, but a lot of the athletes who weren’t in the camp and who saw the success of what proper planning does and focus, decided to do camps this year and we now have 6 fully supported camps around the Country. I can say for sure that in terms of the elite teams, we have the most professional set up and are the most prepared for Comrades Day. We have a very good squad that has assembled to join our local athletes such as Jo Fukuda from Japan and Alex Milne from Great Britain in the men’s race and of course Dominika Stelmach from Poland who finished 2nd last year and who is ready for a good one next week," he said.