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  • Writer's pictureMosibodi Whitehead

After winning a first international medal Lizandré Mulder is hungry for more

When it comes to demanding events, few can be more taxing than the steeplechase. 3000m on the track over 28 barriers including seven water jumps makes this one of the most feared events of any track and field meet programme. In South Africa this discipline has been the domain of Olympian and national record holder (8:11.50) Ruben Ramolefi, while Tebogo Masehla stood head and shoulders above the women winning seven national titles and setting a national record of 9:54.19 in 2011 which still stands today. And while many have dabbled with the discipline, there hasn't been a real steeplechase specialist in SA - until now.

After a slow start to her athletic career, Lizandré Mulder is slowly emerging as an athlete to watch over the 3000m steeplechase. "I started running competitively in my first year at the University of The Free State in 2016. I don’t have that much speed therefore I don’t prefer the flat events, although I do enjoy them. Steeplechase keeps my head busy while running since I get bored very easily during runs. The special thing about this event is that it constantly reminds me of how life is, there will always come another obstacle, another struggle, but if you keep your focus on the end goal and remind yourself that you only have to get over one obstacle at a time, it’s over before you know it," she told #TheTopRunner.

Mulder poses with the medal she won at the CUCSA Games in Malawi. Photo Credit: Lizandré Mulder.

That love for the event combined with a supportive and patient coach in the form of DB Prinsloo has begun to bear fruit. In April, the 25-year old LLB Law Graduate took second place behind Chenique Sas in a thrilling race at the ASA Senior Track and Field Championships at the Greenpoint Stadium that went down to the finish line as Sas hung on for a brave victory while Mulder took the silver medal in a personal best time of 10:44.14. That performance came as a result of a focussed plan to achieve specific goals in 2022.

“Until this year, I had no goals whatsoever, I took everything day-by-day and never took this running thing that serious. This year my coach and I worked with a definite plan for the athletics season, which was extremely successful just because we stuck to a plan, I listened to him, believed in him, and achieved my goals. I think the ultimate goal for everyone is to one day run in the green and gold, which I finally did,” explained the woman who is also a part-time employee at UFS while completing her Master in Law (LLM) with specialisation in Medical law.

Mulder is a versatile athlete who will also represent her province (Athletics Free State) at the ASA Cross Country Championships in Rustenburg later this month. Photo Credit: Lizandré Mulder.

Mulder qualified for the World University Games which were postponed but just as she thought her hopes of donning the green and gold for the first time were dashed - the girl from Jansenville was named in the team to represent the country at the Confederation of University and Colleges Sports Associations (CUCSA) Games which took place in Malawi from the 28th of August and 5th of September. With both the 3000m steeplechase and the 5000m cancelled at the last minute the Kovsies athlete ended up running the 800m where she earned a bronze medal, the 1500m where she was 4th and ran in the 4x400m relay team which won the gold medal.

Having tasted her very first bit of international success, Mulder is now hungry for more in 2023. “I have this crazy idea of chasing the SA record for 3000m steeplechase next year, I told my coach, he didn’t think it was crazy at all and he said it’s possible. So we’re working towards that goal. Whether we make it or not, we’ll just give it a fair go and see how close we can get to the record for I have full confidence in my abilities together with the help of the best coach,” she smiled.

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