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  • Writer's pictureMosibodi Whitehead

'It is a privilege for me to have a competitor like Ryan' - Tshite confident ahead of World Indoors

Not since the competition was held in Doha in the year 2010 has South Africa returned from the world Indoor Championships with a medal. On that occasion it was Olympic silver medalist Khotso Mokoena who won another silver in the long jump - the country's only medal at that World Athletics event. The good weather on the southern tip of Africa means that there is little need for indoor facilities as top runners can train on out door tracks throughout the year. This explains why Athletics South Africa (ASA) usually sends a small team to take part in the short track championships and why medals are hard to come by.

The 2024 edition takes place in Glasgow, Scotland where SA will be represented by just three athletes. Taylon Bieldt takes on the women's 60m hurdles, while Ryan Mphahlele and Tshepo Tshite will race the 1500m. After narrowly missing out on a spot in the final of the metric mile at last year's outdoor World Championships in Budapest, Tshite is looking forward to improving in 2024.

Tshite has had a good training block and is ready for the World Indoor Championships. Photo Credit: Samuel Sepeng Training Group.

"2023 was a good season. Remember that it was my first full year as a 1500m athlete and it was all about trying to understand 1500. Trying to know where to makes moves and understand the event well. I managed to qualify for the Olympic Games so I can say that it went well. I'm happy with the way things went and I will now stick with the 1500m. I won't go back to the 800m," he told #TheTopRunner.

Last year Tshite had the benefit of racing some good quality early season meets on home soil before tackling the European season. The 3-time SA 800m champion went head-to-head with Mphahlele at the Cape Milers Club/Endurocad Middle distance invitational 2, Green Point Stadium, Cape Town where he produced a then personal best 3:33.02 to finish second behind King Ryan and secure qualification for the World Championships. The 27-year-old says running with Ryan makes him a better athlete.

Tshite and Mphahlele go head to head down the home straight at the Cape Milers/Endurocad Invitational Meet at the Green Point Stadium. Photo Credit: Gallo Images.

"It is a privilege for me to have a competitor like Ryan. He is a frontrunner and because we compete at the same level it is a privilege to have a talented athlete like him and Nkosinathi Sibiya to run with because we help each other. He is a frontrunner so he pushes the pace which allowed us to qualify early in the season. That means that we then have enough time to prepare for major competitions," said the man who is coached by Samuel Sepeng.

Having already spent some time racing on the European indoor circuit before these short track championships, Mphahlele will go into this weekend's competition (1-3 March) in the Scottish capital with confidence after setting an indoor national record of 3:35.06 in Poland on the 6th of February.

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