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  • Writer's pictureThathe Msimango

'The focus hasn't changed' - Mhlakwana extends stay with Hollywoodbets and looks forward to 2023

South African ultra-Marathon ace Nkosikhona Mhlakwana is delighted to have extended his contract with Hollywoodbets Athletics Club by another year. Mhlakwana signed with the "Purple Team" last year, after spending three years with Maxed Elite Running Club. In 2022 the 29-year-old from Siphumelele in Howick produced some noteworthy performances which included taking second position on his Two Oceans Marathon debut and coming sixth in just his second Comrades Marathon.

Mhlakwana grits his teeth and maintains his focus on the way to finishing in sixth place at the 2022 Comrades Marathon. Photo Credit: Inanda Dam Training Group.

The man popularly known as the PitBull on the athletics scene says the club had no choice but to keep him based on these performances. "I'm delighted to continue my journey with Hollywoodbets. I feel they didn't just give me the contract but I earned it. The numbers speak for themselves," said Mhlakwana, who is coached by multiple Comrades Marathon gold medalist Prodigal Khumalo.

"Last year, I performed well in my first year with the club. I delivered in the big races that I targeted which is Two Oceans and Comrades so I don't think the club would have wanted to lose someone like me. I won't say I would continue where I left off last year but I intend to up my game to the next level. It's all about being focused, training hard and the results will come. I'm grateful that Hollywoodbets recognize my talent," he told #TheTopRunner.

Mhlakwana takes an agonising second place at the 2022 Totalsports Two Oceans Marathon where Ethiopia's Edndale Belachew bested him in a thrilling sprint finish. Photo Credit: Two Oceans Media.

As the 2023 athletics season gets underway, Mhlakwana has underlined his ambitions for the year ahead. "This year, the focus hasn't changed a bit. I'm still eyeing to do well in Two Oceans and Comrades Marathon. Those are the big races on my calendar," he highlighted.

"I'm still going to do short distances to build speed. But firstly, I must sit down with the coach to plan on how are we going to tackle the year. I'm not sure which is going to be first race this year but soon I will know. My main goal is still to improve my times too," he concluded.

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