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  • Writer's pictureMosibodi Whitehead

'My focus this year will be on short distances. I want to run a fast time.' - Gladwin Mzazi

For those who have written off Gladwin Mzazi as passed his best, do so at your peril. That's according to the former two-time World University Games champion who has announced that he intends to return to the top of the South African distance running pile in 2023. Less than a month into the new season and the 34-year-old has already won two races - the Varsity Kudus 15km and the Nedbank Skosana 10km race (30:33).

"I'm happy, I'm happy," he told #TheTopRunner. "I'm enjoying my running. I'm looking forward to the season. I hope it will be a good one. My focus this year will be on short distances, especially in the first three months. I want to do more speed. We have Absa 10k in PE. That's my main goal. I want to run a fast time there. I'm still in my base which I'll finish off at the end of January. Then from there it will be pure speed preparing for the PE race."

Mzazi taking part in the 2020 Sanlam Cape Town Marathon which was run in three different locations around the country because of the travel restrictions imposed by the lockdown. Photo Credit: Sanlam Cape Town Marathon.

And if these early season results are anything to go by then that's possible for the holder of a 28:22 10km personal best. by his own standards, Mzazi had a quiet 2022 by his standards, the highlight of which was possibly pacing multiple World Record holder Genzebe Dibaba to a 31:03 finish in her first 10km outing at the Absa RUN YOUR CITY Cape Town 10k last year. Were he to go faster than that PB which was set back in 2014, it would be a remarkable feat because the Boxer Athletic Club top runner is essentially self-coached these days.

"Because I've worked with the best coaches in South Africa - I was with Hendrik (Ramaala), I was with Sponge (Michael Seme), I was with Pio (Mpolokeng) - I still have those programmes and I combine them here and there. Sometimes the body doesn't allow me to do what I used to do before because I was still young and fresh, so I do what the body feels like doing," explained the Adidas sponsored athlete.

Mzazi pacing Kenya's Jesca Chelangat to a fast 30:41 to win the Absa RUN YOUR CITY Durban 10km last July. Photo Credit: Stillwater Sports/Josh Reid.

Those comments perhaps reveal the future plans of a man who has designs on becoming a fully-fledged coach one day. But that will have to wait for now as the former double SA 5000m champion juggles, life as a professional athlete with family life. The married father of one says having a full-time athlete for a wife (Lebo Phalula) makes things a lot easier in that regard.

"It's good to have a supportive partner because our day starts very early. We must take the child to school and then from there it's training and then come back to rest. Again, fetch the child from school and then training. But I think we are coping because if you have a good supportive partner who understands what you are doing then it becomes a lot easier."

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