Thulisile Amon sets 800m PB says she is happy to be running well after struggling with depression
As South Africa continues to search for top class senior female track athletes, two may be raising their hand - even if it's on the other side of the Atlantic. Originally from the Middleburg township of Mhluzi, twins Thobile and Thulisile Amon are showing promise over the middle distances at one of the biggest colleges in the United States. Running in the highest division of US College sports (Division One of the NCAA) both Thobile and Thulisile ran new personal bests over the mile and 800m respectively this weekend, which leaves them within striking distance of qualifying to represent the country at major international competitions.
"It would be an honour to represent South Africa as a growing and learning athlete. I would like to take one step at the time," said Thulisile after running 2:11.64 for 800m indoors which is also a record for the New Mexico State University where she and her sister are now enrolled after starting out their American College journey at Monroe College in New York. Amon who finished third in that race over the weekend believes that joining one of the more established Division One Schools was the best decision she could have made for her fledgling athletic career.
"The system that they have is made to build us, we have good coaching staff, trainers, professors and psychologist the weather is warm they don’t have cold winters like New York. So D1 is very competitive to make it to nationals for example you need to run 2:05 and faster if I am not mistaken so when you make Nationals in a D1 school then you are definitely a foot away from being in the Olympics. So clearly you can see that you really have to work hard to make it," said the young lady who was developed by Emmanuel Mabaso at the Nkangala Athletic Club before joining the TuksSport High School.
The best opportunity that the 23-year old has of donning the green and gold is likely to come in the form of the Commonwealth Games which take place in Birmingham from the 28th of July. While the South African Sport Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) are still finalizing the exact qualification standards with individual national federations, it is expected that the qualifying times will not be as stringent as those set down by World Athletics for the World Championships in Oregon in August.
But Amon is not getting carried away. For now she is simply happy to be running well. "I’m looking forward to the outdoor season. I just want to see how far I can keep challenging myself while being patient and staying humble. I am excited for my shape and form physically because I’ve been struggling with depression. I am seeing a psychologist personal and sport, just to talk to someone because we as athletes we tend to pressure ourselves and overthink, not knowing that our mind set affects our performance. So I am still working hard on getting my confidence back n loving myself enough to enjoy running again," she concluded.
With that sort of attitude and Athletics South Africa's increasing willingness to accommodate the 100 South African athletes running on the different American College circuits, the future looks bright for the latest pair of Mzansi running twins who will look to pick up where the Phalulas leave off.