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  • Writer's pictureMosibodi Whitehead

New kid on the hurdling block Kgoputso Manaleng on breaking records and SA title

For those who follow schools athletics in Gauteng, the name Phenyo Miyen will be familiar. The 15-year-old schoolboy is a hurdling prodigy who is already competing in senior races over 110m hurdles and 200m. For instance Miyen, who is a specialist over the high hurdles, already has a sub 22 second 200m clocking to his names thanks to then 21.88 he ran at the Athletics Central North West Top 30 Athletics Meeting last October - just a few short months after his 15th birthday.

Yet for all his abilities as a top runner, Miyen may be an even better motivator because he has helped to launch a man who is outshining even him. On Saturday the 17th of February, Kgoputso Manaleng broke Miyen's boys U15 100m Hurdles record of 12.54 at the Curro Podium Grand Finale schools meet when he ran 12.51 to win be more than a second from his closest rival. Speaking to #TheTopRunner after the race, the Jeppe Boys High School learner revealed that it was Miyen's encouragement that drove him flying over the finish line.

Manaleng in action at the Curro Hazeldean Top 14 earlier in 2024. Photo Credit: Cecilia van Bers.

I’m very happy about it,” he told #TheTopRunner. “A lot of people said I’m gonna break the record but I didn’t believe them. I knew that it was going to be very hard to beat. But I’m very thankful to everyone who believed in me especially Phenyo Myeni - that guy really believed in me and coming from him it’s something special. My coach also believed in me. If those two can believe in me then you can also believe in yourself.”

For his record-breaking run, the 15-year-old who is also his school's U14 100m hurdles record holder (13.83), was named the Curro Podium Grand Finale's Junior Boy Track Athlete of the competition which took pace at the Pilditch Stadium in Tshwane. Rather than take all the credit, , insists that Miyen deserves the praise for inspiring him to be the best he can be.

TuksSport High School 100m and 300m hurdler Phenyo Miyen doing what he does best. Photo Credit: TuksSport High School.

"We got to connect at the ASA last year. I was still 14 so I was adjusting. But having him in my heat to go to the final was good because it gave me the motivation to push to go to the final. Now I’m running the same times that he did last year," said the youngster who is coached by Elize Smit. The same Elize Smit who also coached Mpho Tladi to a semi-final birth at the 2016 World U20 Championships and the African U20 110m Hurldes title back in 2017.

And after such fiery start to the season, Manaleng only has one thing on his mind; winning the Athletics South Africa (ASA) Sub Youth title at the ASA U16 & U18 and U20 Championships which will be run later this month at the same Pretoria stadium where he had that marvellous performance. "I’m hoping to win SA’s - God willing. If I can win SA’s I would be so grateful."

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