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  • Writer's pictureMosibodi Whitehead

'I've been really patient' - Comeback queen Kavanagh flying again after long injury layoff

When Tayla Kavanagh won the inaugural Athletics South Africa 5km Championships in Nasrec on Saturday, she announced her return to the winners circle after a long period of injury which had some pundits questioning whether she would ever rediscover the form she showed when she won her first national title with a sizzling 32:10 at the 2021 Absa RUN YOUR CITY DURBAN 10K, which doubled as the national championships that year. The 22-year-old

"I'm incredibly happy," she told journalists shortly after cruising to a comfortable 16:45 victory at 1600m above sea level on a chilly morning in the south of Johannesburg. "At the end of last year I suffered a very serious injury, so I was out for about six months. I've been really patient and consistent coming back from injury. I worked really hard but I was also really aware to come back slowly and listen to my body. So to take this win today makes me absolutely ecstatic."

Kavanagh celebrates her first major victory since coming back from injury. Photo Credit: Tumelo Mabua.

That she was able to come back from that stress fracture at all and is starting to recapture that mercurial 2021/early 2022 form which saw her run under 33 minutes for 10km three times is a credit to her new coaching team. At the end of last year the youngster from Hillcrest in Durban, made the move to The City of Gold to start training with renowned 10km and half marathon coach Hendrick Ramaala at Zoo Lake. Assisted by his wife Rodica Morioanu who took charge of the strength training and physical rehabilitation, Kavanagh was soon running again.

The Hollywood Athletic Club top runner says apart from having an excellent coaching team, her training partners have also been a great help to her. "I have a really good coach, good guidance and support. And I also have a good strong group of guys that I train with. With my training it's about being consistent, showing up and doing the hard work. Everything will work out well.

Kavanagh and Seoposengwe, both trained by Hendrik Ramaala at Zoo Lake pose with their gold medals at Nasrec on Saturday 17 June after they won the women's and men's ASA 5km titles respectively. Photo Credit: Tumelo Mabua.

Kavanagh's victory means that she will now represent South Africa at the very first World Athletics 5km championships in the Latvian city of Riga in late September. "Going into the race I wasn't too worried about the time, I was more worried about qualifying. The most important thing was to qualify. I've had my eye on this title because going to World Champs in September has been a dream of mine."

But before she can travel overseas, the woman who had begun to challenge East Africans on the local 10km scene with encouraging performance like a second place (32:51) at the 2021 Gqeberha leg of the SPAR Grand Prix is looking forward to racing the SPAR Grand Prix in Durban on Sunday. "I ran the SPAR in Gqeberha (33:11) which was my first 10km of the season and I managed a pretty good result there because I came eighth and I know that it was my first 10km in a long time. So I look forward to lining up with strong internationals and string South African women."

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