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  • Writer's pictureMosibodi Whitehead

'In 2024 everything is going well' - Shirley Nekhubui ready for World Relays after doing national 200m/400m double

Although she missed out on securing automatic Olympic qualification, Shirley Nekhubui announced her return to her best form by claiming the sprint double at the national championships a fortnight ago. The 23-year-old won the 200m in 23.20 which was the second fastest time of her career and then won the 400m a day later in a career best 51.77 t emerge as one of the top performers at the Athletics South Africa (ASA) Senior Track and Field Championships in Pietermaritzburg at the end of April.

"I'm so happy to have done the double over 200m and 400m," she told #TheTopRunner. "Although I didn't do it the way I wanted to do it, I'm happy because I ran a season's best for 200m and the 400m I ran a PB. It's not the way I wanted it because I was actually trying to qualify for the Olympic Games.

Nekhubvi poses with her two individual medals as well as her relay medal won as part of the Central Gauteng Athletics teams at the ASA Senior Track & Field Championships. Photo Credit: Supplied.

Having defeated the likes of multiple national champion Miranda Coetzee, World University Games medalist Marlie Viljoen and Amy Naude to win the title, the Johannesburg-based athlete who originally hails from Venda in Limpopo has demonstrated that she is now over the injuries and poor form that had troubled her during parts of 2022 and 2023. This season, the University of Johannesburg top runner has set personal bests over 100m, 150m, 200m and 400m and says it's all down to a change in her outlook.

"In 2024 everything is going well. No injuries. No issues. I've been focusing on training, eating healthy and spending more time with the people that support me. I also changed my mentality and worked on being positive. But the big things is that I'm also closer to home now which is good because I get everything I need."

Nekhubvi runs past Tamzin Thomas on the way to claiming the gold medal in the 200m at the SA Champs. Photo Credit: Supplied.

With that positive mindset, Team SA will be banking on Nekhubui to be one of the strongest links in it's relay chain. The athlete who was part of the women's 4x400m relay team that took fourth place at the 2022 Commonwealth Games as well as the mixed 4x400m relay team that finished in fourth at the recent African Games in Ghana has been selected to represent South Africa at the World Relay Championships in the Bahamas this weekend (4-5 May) and says that festival of relays is all part of her bigger plan to improve her fitness and qualify for #Paris2024.

"At the moment I wish to qualify in the 400m. I'm trying to run 200m for a PB and if I qualify it will be a bonus but my target is the 400m. If I can run 50.8 or 50.9 then I'll be happy," she explained alluding to the automatic qualification standard of 50.95. "So now the plan is for me to go to Europe and the World Relays in the Bahamas."

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