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  • Writer's pictureThathe Msimango

Walking sensation Wandile Ndawo makes history as he pens contract with Maxed Elite Running Club

Updated: Feb 17, 2023

South African 20km Walking Champion Wandisile Ndawo continues to enjoy a stellar year. Ndawo who made history when he became the first KwaZulu-Natal athlete to conquer that distance when he won the national title last month, has been rewarded for his achievement by signing with one of the country's elite clubs. The 22-year-old walking sensation recently penned down a one year professional contract with Maxed Elite Running Club - to become the first ever walker to be signed by the club. Ndawo, who had been competing for the Orcas Academy says 2023 has started off at a high pace for him.

"I don't know what to say. The way I have managed to achieve all these things at the short space of time still beats me," said an elated Ndawo. "I started the year by winning the national title against very good athletes, then now I have earned a contract with Mr Price."

Ndawo has made history to become the first walker to sign a pro deal with Maxed Elite Running Club. Photo Credit: Wandile Ndawo.

"You must remember in our last conversation when I won SA Champs, I indicated that I was battling with essential things like shoes and even during the Champs I my shoe was not in a good condition. My prayers have been answered because now I'll get all the essential support from Mr Price going forward. Our aim is to fight on the road so that the club will keep me," shared the man who hails from KwaMaphumulo, North of Durban.

Despite switching from running to walking nearly three years ago, Ndawo never imagined that he would enjoy so much success so soon. Ndawo started his athletics career as a road running athlete but persistent injuries kept him on the sidelines and he was unable to compete anymore.

Ndawo representing KwaZulu-Natal Athletics at the 2022 ASA Senior Track and Field Championships. The 22-year-old won the 2023 20km Walk title in 1:47:18 in Cape Town in January. Photo Credit: Supplied.

"Before, I was a road runner doing 10km and 21km in most cases. I was making a significant progress as the athlete. Then I kept suffering injuries which I think derailed my progress. At one stage, I had an injury which forced me to stop training for a long time. It frustrated me so much that I couldn't even jog anymore. Then one day I decided to walk to try stretch my legs a bit. Little did I know that I would end up excelling which made me to switch to walking fully," explains Ndawo, who is coached by Sihle Shange.

For Ndawo, the bigger picture now is to work towards the elusive dream of wearing the green and gold at the 2024 Olympics in Paris. "I think any athlete who participates in sports dreams of representing his or her country at the Olympics games. It's the biggest sports platform in the world. I share that goal too. If I can represent my country at the next Olympics in Paris then I would be happy. Things are opening up as I have started to get the support which will push me to perform at the highest level," he said.

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