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  • Writer's pictureThathe Msimango

'I thrive on competition' - Adriaan Wildschutt looking forward to racing 5000m at ASA Champs

South African track star Adrian Wildschutt is looking forward to competing in the national Track & Field Championship. Wildschutt is expected to light up the track in the 5 000m event at the Umsunduzi Athletics Stadium on Saturday 20 April. All country's biggest athletes including Wayde Van Niekerk, Akani Simbine and Zakithi Nene will line up to get their hands on a national title while also preparing for the Paris Olympics in August.

The 25-year-old Wildschutt will be competing in the nationals for the first time in six years after having accepted a scholarship to study Arizona University in The United States of America. Speaking to #TheTopRunner, Wildschutt who hails from Ceres in the Western Cape, says even though all eyes will be on him thanks to his scintillating current form, the race is not just about him because the country is blessed with exceptional runners that will challenge him on race day.

Hoka ambassador Wildschutt has been flying on the track. Earlier this year he became the first South African to dip under 13 minutes for 5km when he ran 12:56. Photo credit: Adriaan Wildschutt.

"South Africa has a vast talent pool, ranging anywhere from 1500m to the marathon. I am sure many of them will be in the 5000m, I am expecting a pretty stacked field with a lot of talent in the 5000m specifically since that’s the race I’ll be competing in," explains Wildschutt, who was part of the Team SA that took part in the World Championship in Budapest last August.

"I've heard of a few big names that I am aware of that will be in the race, which excites me even more. I haven’t competed at an SA champs in a long time, so I’m super stoked to be back on home soil to try and compete for my first national title. I tend to thrive off competition, that’s what gets me going. My goal is to win, and I am sure that’s the same goal that everyone else has. I never shy away from competition, I embrace it. Sometimes it goes your way, other times it doesn’t. Nonetheless, I’m super excited for this opportunity," said the man who will be running in the colours of Boland.

Wildschutt last raced in South Africa in October 2023 where he produced a sub 28 minute clocking to win the Sanlam Marathon 10km Peace Run. Photo Credit: Sanlam Cape Town Marathon Media.

Wildschutt became the first South African to under 27 minutes in the 10 000m event when he clocked 26:55 in the The Ten Event last month. Even though he has booked his place in both the 5 000m and 10 000m events at #Paris2024, Wildschutt says racing just the 5000m in KwaZulu-Natal this weekend is part of his overall plan.

"Nothing has been decided about the Olympics yet. Myself and my coaching staff has drawn up a full plan of how my season is going to look outside the Olympics, and we were always going to do the 5000m at SA Champs. It would be silly, and illogical in a sense to do another 10,000m after I just ran one in California a few weeks ago. My main priority is still the 10,000m for the Olympics, we could still decide to do the double in Paris. That remains to be seen. Of course, I would love to do both at SA champs, but we have to be smart here," he said.

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