SA 800m champion Tshite happy with progress and remains confident of qualifying for Tokyo 2021
Everything is going according to plan for Tshepo Tshite as he works towards a maiden Olympic appearance. Three weeks after winning the Athletics Gauteng North provincial title, the man from Rustenburg was crowned national 800m champion when he crossed the finish line in a season's best time of 1:45.79 at the Sizwe Medical Fund SA Senior Track and Field Championships last weekend. Although that leaves him outside the Olympic qualification mark of 1:45.20, Tshite believes it's only a matter of time before he books his seat in the plane to Tokyo.
"The plan is to run that Olympic qualification time soon," he told #TheTopRunner. "The challenge in South Africa is that I have to run that time alone, so that by the time I run the European season I am ready for the international standard," said the 24-year old. Tshite would have been looking forward to being pushed by 19-year old Renier de Villiers who has also gone sub 1:46 this season. But the reigning SA junior champion from Vereeniging was involved in a freak accident where he almost lost his toe to a broken bottle, forcing him out of a competition where he was expected to challenge Tshite and upset the seniors.
In the absence of stiffer competition in local races, Tshite is confident that he will be able to nail the qualifying time once he starts competing on the European circuit. "If I can run 1:45 alone then I know that when I go to Europe I can run 1:44. That's what I did year before last," said the man who reached the semi-finals at the 2019 World Championships under the guidance of coach Samuel Sepeng.
The two-time SA 800m champion is the owner of a 1:44.69 personal best which was run in Pretoria, a city he now calls home. Tshite ascribes his good form this season to his training, much of which has been done at the University of Pretoria's BestMed Tuks Stadium. "I would like to thank Tuks for allowing us to train there. Everything is going well. All that is left is for us to get good weather conditions and for the body to respond on the day. The plan is to become an athlete who runs 1:44 consistently. That is the goal we are working towards," he said.