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  • Writer's pictureThathe Msimango

Mathanga steals the show as he is crowned SA 10 000m champion

KwaZulu-Natal golden boy Mbuleli Mathanga continued his fine form as he destroyed a quality field to be crowned South Africa's new 10 000m champion on Day 1 of the Sizwe Medical Fund South African Track & Field Championships at Tuks in Pretoria.yesterday.

Mathanga took the lead with two laps to go on his way to clocking 29:23 and was followed closely by Durban self-styled social runner Adam Lipchitz in the second place while SA 5 000m record holder Elroy Gelant rounded out the podium as all the top three athletes dips under 30 minutes. The KwaZulu-Natal 10 000m record holder applauded his coach Mdu Khumalo who made sure he travel to the Capital City on Monday in order to acclimatise to the high altitude. Mathanga thinks this is the biggest achievement in his burgeoning running career.

Mathanga training at the Kings Park Stadium in Durban. Photo Credit: Cuan Walker.

"I'm so over the moon that I managed to be crowned South African champion," said a delighted Mathanga. "This is the big stage and I got a medal. I have entered myself into the history books as even people across the world will be reminded that I managed to be a country's champion at one stage. I must thank coach Mdu for his plans to allow me to travel alone to Pretoria as he saw a need for me to adapt to the weather conditions. He even implemented a new program for me to succeed on race day. This remains my biggest highlight in my running career and I will forever cherish the moment," he told #TheTopRunner.

The 27-year-old Phantane Athletics Club athlete says he his plan was always to get a medal rather than chasing the time, as running at altitude has its challenges. Next on his schedule is to prepare to race in the SA Half Marathon Championship in Port Elizabeth in May.

"I never came here looking for the best time," elaborated Mathanga. "I knew running at altitude has got its own challenges so I stuck to the plan we had with my coach. The target was to get a medal especially in the bigger stage. I still have to run 5 000m and the next chapter will be to plan for SA Champs (Half Marathon) which I'm hoping to do well in. But all the necessary planning will come from my coach," he said.

Coach Mdu Khumalo putting his charges through their paces. Photo Credit: Cuan Walker.

Khumalo, who is the owner of Phantane is pleased to see the achievements made by the KZN 10 000m record holder over the last few months and believes this medal will motivate him even more. He told #TheTopRunner that he trusted his athlete to emerge victorious on the day.

"I knew that Mathanga will come will win on the day," said Khumalo. "But as the coach you don't talk much about these things but the work we did preparing the championship showed that he is on the highest level. I'm glad he won a medal especially against talented athletes which will be a moral boost to him going forward. He has been running good times but this medal was needed. I'm so happy for him."

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