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  • Writer's pictureThathe Msimango

Maxed Elite make strong signings

With the 2023 road running season already in full swing, the Maxed Elite Running Club has underlined its intentions for the year ahead. As one of the oldest elite running clubs in South African, Maxed Elite have made serious acquisitions in a quest to recapture the dominance they enjoyed in the 90s and 2000s.

They have managed to rope in Bongelani Mkhwanazi, who represented SA in the last year's World 100k Championship in Germany; Ndumiso Sokhela, a Comrades Marathon gold medal hopeful who took 37th place on his Ultimate Human Race debut last year; Pakiso Mthembu who represented the country at the 2019 World Cross Country Championships in Denmark; and Samuel Sibeko who won the 2022 Dranksberg Marathon. The signings were confirmed by the club's team manager Martin Ngwenya, who is optimistic that these young athletes have the potential to be champions if only they are looked after.

Pakiso Mthembu who is coached by Xolani Mabhida and holds a 28:59 10km Personal Best has joined Maxed Elite. Here he is pictured running in the colours of KwaZulu Natal Athletics at the ASA Senior Track and Field Championships in April 2022 where he claimed sixth place in 28:59.20. Photo Credit: Supplied.

"I'm very excited with the athletes we have managed to bring to the club. We feel these are young athletes that will grow with the team and have a potential to excel on the road in the upcoming years. I think as a club our commitment is to support these athletes with all the essential things they need in order for them to perform well in races. They are talented and need to well taken care of to deliver on the road. We strongly believe that we are going to have a good year," said an elated Ngwenya.

His comments come after a mixed bag of results in 2022. Although Ethiopia's Edndale Belachew won the Totalsports Two Oceans ultra marathon, the club could only manage one gold medal (ninth placed Charles Tjiane) at the Comrades Marathon. In the past, Maxed was also known for recruiting a number of talent foreign athletes, especially those from South Africa's neighbouring countries such as Zimbabwe and Lesotho. Ngwenya says while they will include a few runners from outside the country, the idea is to have more homegrown talent in their team this year.

Team Maxed Elite take a photo before taking on the Dis-Chem Half Marathon where Lesotho's Blandina Maikitsi won the women's race in 1:19:54. Maikitsi is pictured here in the second row, fourth from left standing next to team manager Martin Ngwenya. Photo Credit: Andrew Ngwenya.

"I think over the years most people have known us as a club dominated by foreign athletes. We are still going to have foreigners in our team. But we also want to bring in more SA athletes in the team. We are not done as we have other athletes we are still in negotiations with. But I can't reveal their names as yet. We want to be represented in all distances from 10km up to the Ultra-Marathons. But our main goal remains to do well in Two Oceans and Comrades Marathon. I think it possible with the squad we have," he told #TheTopRunner.

Mthembu is set to don the red and white of Maxed Elite for the first time tomorrow (Sunday) when taking part in the Kearsney 10k race.

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