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  • Writer's pictureMosibodi Whitehead

'It shows that we can take athletes from the dust to the World Champs' - Elvis Khoza

Updated: Aug 19, 2023

Regardless of what happens when he opens his World Championships account tomorrow, Ryan Mphahlele can look back on 2023 as a season to remember. This year alone the Tornado from Thembisa has represented South Africa at the World Cross Country Championships, set a national 5km Road Record (13:24) and set personal bests over 1500m (3:32.90), One Mile (3:54.48), 3000m (7:45.10) and 5000m (13:46.57). The 2019 SA 1500m champion has always been a promising talent, but this year he has started to piece it all together. So what's changed?

Khoza talks to media at the Thembisa High School where he coaches a number of athletes including Mphahlele on the dusty athletics track. Photo Credit: MWMedia.

"I haven't really done anything very different," he told #TheTopRunner before jetting off for Europe. "But what I’ve done is that I've become a little more fearless and become more ambitious to achieve my goals. I’ve been maintaining my peak fitness with consistent training. That’s the only magic that my coach Elvis Khoza and I are doing. And if we keep at it we’ll do well at the World Champs," explained the 25-year-old University of Johannesburg student.

His performances in the lead up to Budapest are a far cry from his 2022 season when he was knocked out during the heats at the World Championships in Oregon after being stuck in transit for hours due to VISA issues that prevented many athletes from entering the United States until the eleventh hour. Moreover, this time around Mphahlele will be travelling with his coach Khoza who discovered him as an 11-year-old in the Ekurhuleni township and could be the difference between an early exit and the making the finals.

Khoza and Mphahlele in the middle of a workout. Photo Credit: Supplied.

"It's my first time with Team SA. I feel blessed because it will be first time with the senior team. It shows that coaching is a serious thing and it also shows that we can take athletes from the dust to the World Champs. I'm 100 percent positive that he can finish on the podium because remember he's been going alone to most of the overseas races and even then he has been doing well. So now since I'm there, we can work together."

Aside from his longtime athlete, Khoza will also be responsible for guiding Mzansi's other middle distance stars in the form of SA 1500m champion Tshepo Tshite and multiple SA 800m and 1500m champion Prudence Sekgodiso. Khoza has been appointed as the middle distance coach for Team SA and is positive about what the entire team can do in Hungary when the competition gets underway on 19 August.

Team South Africa at the OR Tambo Garden Court in Isando, Kempton Park on 14 August before their departure for the Athletics World Championships in Budapest, Hungary. Photo Credit: ASA Media/ Cecila van Bers.

"Since we can see that South African middle distance is coming right, trust me we have a medal there. We'll be encouraged to see our middle distance athletes there together working as a team." Mphahlele and Tshite will be in action in the heats of the men's 1500m at 19:00 on Saturday 19 August. Catch all the action live on SuperSport.

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