Thembisa AC athletes ready for 2023 after club's succesful December training camp
"I have been dreaming about going overseas for a long time. Even now my mother can't believe that I'll be going because it will be my first time going overseas," said an emotional Sibusiso Msibi when asked about his preparation for the World Cross Country Championships. The 18-year-old Thembisa Athletic Club runner has been selected to represent the South Africa in the junior men's 8km race at the competition which takes place in Australia in February.
To get ready for what will be a big year for him, Msibi has spent the last three weeks hard in training at the club's annual December training camp. Under the watchful eye of coach Elvis Khoza and assisted by his decorated training partner and 2019 SA 1500m champion Ryan Mphahlele, Msibi has been completely focussed on preparing for what will be his first season since matriculating from Queens College at the end of 2022.
"So far so good. We are pushing. We are training hard for the season," he told #TheTopRunner. "2022 was a bit hard because I was focusing on my matric exams. Although I didn't get a medal at the SA Senior Track and Field Championships I managed to get a silver medal in the 1500m at the SA Schools Track and Field Championships and I learnt a lot," said the man whose 3:53:44 personal best was set when he was knocked out of the heats at the Senior Track and Field Championships at the Greenpoint Stadium in Cape Town.
That Msibi could spend nearly a month running hard with his food and accommodation taken care of is testament to the work done by Donald Mathipa and his team at the Thembisa Athletics Club. Forty runners, many juniors gathered there on the 19th of December for a gruelling programme which came to an end yesterday (8 January). Sprinters, jumpers and middle and long distance athletes were put through their paces by Khoza as the club's management team focussed on making sure all the components were in place for a successful camp.
"We are here to train to prepare for track and field and cross country. We are training their mindset as well. The stay here at the Thembisa High School. We have girls on the one side and boys on the other with three training sessions a day. We have volunteers who prepare their meals according to the diet provided by the coach. So they eat, sleep and run - nothing else. So as a club we go out and marshal at races throughout the year and the money we make there is put towards the camp to supplement the R900 paid by each participant," explained the club's Kamogelo Makitla.
In addition to the volunteers and parents, Makitla also thanked all those who had supported the camp be it through financial contributions, products or by giving of themselves. For example some of the drinks that the athletes used during the camp came from aQuellé in the form of their new sports drink aQuellé ViV. "You know what, God provides. Different sponsors come in and give us this and that. We are so grateful to them. We can never do anything without our sponsors."
With the work done it's up to the athletes to produce the results. By being selected to represent his country, Msibi has followed in Mphahlele's fast footsteps as only the second Thembisa AC athlete to earn international colours. Msibi is not intimidated by the East Africans that he will face saying he doesn't know anyone so he'll just run his own race. "So now I will just go there [Australia] and run and do my best and see where I am. I think top 15 is possible."