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  • Writer's pictureThathe Msimango

Mathanga to race half marathon in Italy

Newly crowned South African 10km Cross Country champion Mbuleli Mathanga has earned a golden ticket to participate in the OstiaRoma Half Marathon in Italy. The only World Athletics Gold Label r21km ace in the country is scheduled to take place in Rome on the 17th of October. Mathanga, who is coach by Mdu Khumalo, says determination and paying attention to detail is what has made 2021 such a fruitful year for him. The 28- year-old is delighted to be afforded an opportunity to rub shoulders with some of the best elite runners in the world. He describes the moment as one of the biggest achievements of his fledgling career.

"I can't describe how I'm feeling to get an opportunity to run an international race against the top athletes from around the world. This is going to be a nice experience to learn from the best athletes. It's an achievement for me, as I continue to have a good year," describes Mathanga, who is the reigning SA 10 000m Champion.

Mbuleli Mathanga had a great 2021 track season that saw him win the SA 10 000m title. Photo Credit: Cuan Walker.

"I believe everything that I achieved this year as a result of having to work hard and listening to the instructions given to me by my coach. I'm forever grateful to work with my coach because we have a good understanding of each other. My next goal is to stay consistent and do better," he said.

Mathanga, who runs in the colours of Phantane Athletics Club is the owner of 61:26 personal best of 61:26 over the 21km distance, which he achieved when he came third during the SA Half Marathon in Ggeberha in May. His aim, once he jets off to Europe, is to run a good time and he is not ruling out the possibility of a top 10 finish.

Mathanga hard at work training in Indwendwe in the Valley of a Thousand Hills. Photo Credit: Cuan Walker.

"My target is to run a good time. I can't say I want to win the race because I understand how competitive the race will be," explains a man who also set a new KwaZulu Natal Athletics 10000m in 2021. "If I enter any race I strive to run good time so nothing has changed even now. So if I can get to finish inside the top 10 then that would be a bonus to me. In my mind, I'm well prepared for any outcome on the race day," he shared.

Mathanga's last international race was the Prague 10km in the Czech Republic where he finished in 10th position with a time of 28:13.

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