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  • Writer's pictureCharles Baloyi

I needed a new challenge - Nzima

Prominent South African road runner Sibusiso Nzima left his long-time home, The Nedbank Running Club in order to pursue new opportunities. The 34-year-old was unveiled as Murray & Roberts Running Club's newest member on Friday. The Olympian has been with the Nedbank Dream Team since his days as a junior, but decided that it was a time for a new challenge, so he opted not to renew his membership with Nedbank in December. Nzima signed a one-year contract with Murray & Roberts, describing his switch as the beginning of good things to come.

Nzima signs on the dotted line to join Murray & Roberts Running Club. Photo Credit: Murray & Roberts Running Club.

Nzima said Nedbank Running Club manager Nick Bester gave him his blessing to leave the club. IN trading green for black and yellow, he joins big names such as Charne Bosman, Kesa Molotsane, Benedict Moeng, and Kabelo Melamu, to mention a few. "They say a change is as good as a holiday. It's time for a change. I have grown, and I want to challenge myself. Nick gave me his blessings. I left Nedbank on good terms, and they had offered me a new contract, but I turned it down. In life, nothing lasts forever. I am at a club that values me more, and they make me feel special. I did not fight with them, and I am leaving because I am seeking a new challenge, and I think that I will get better opportunities with Murray& Roberts. I've been with Nedbank since I was 16 years old," explained Nzima.

Nzima enjoyed over a decade running in the colours of the Nedbank Running Club. Photo Credit: Tobias Ginsberg.

It's the year of the delayed Olympics Games, but athletes' preparations have been made difficult by the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic. The Covid-19 infection rate keeps on rising in the country forcing yet more races to be cancelled both in SA and abroad. Nzima who is in a race against time to try and qualify for a second successive Olympic Games, suffered a major set-back when the Seville Marathon was canceled two weeks ago. He had planned to next month's race in Spain to qualify for Tokyo 2021. But the organizers had no choice but to postpone the race to November due to the Covid-19 pandemic, which is too late for an athlete trying to book a ticket to Japan in July.

Nzima in action at Rio 2016. He hopes to represent Team SA again at Tokyo 2021. Photo Credit: Sibusiso Nzima.

" I am happy and sad at the same time. A part of me is celebrating my move to Murray & Roberts, but the postponement of the Seville race left me heartbroken. I worry about the time, and we are looking for other races in March. I don't know if it will be too late as I am not sure there will be races. The lockdown in SA is also not helping," said a concerned Nzima.

Nzima completed a good long run on Sunday morning, and he says that he will not stop training. " I did a 40km long run, and I will try not to lose hope. I am in the best possible condition. But I need races to try and qualify for the Olympics," he lamented.

It's more about recognition than anything for Nzima. He is not getting younger and wants to challenge himself. " I want to finish off my career here and build a name for myself," he said.

He will get a monthly retainer like the rest of the team members leaving him free to focus on training for his Olympic goal. His aim is to again qualify for the men's marathon team where Stephen Mokoka, Desmond Mokgobu, and Elroy Gelant occupy the three positions. The qualifying time for the men's 42km marathon is 2:11:30 or better. Gelant's 2:10:31 makes him the slowest of the trio, and Nzima believes he can dislodge the Boxer runner. "I want to beat Gelant's time. But my worry is how am I going to leave the country with the borders closed. I hope they will open races. I am confident that I can better the qualifying time and make the final team," said an optimistic Nzima.

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