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  • Writer's pictureMosibodi Whitehead

'We wanna contribute to SA’s success at a global level' - Mdu Khumalo as Tshite, Sekgodišo and Morepe join Phantane AC

After securing the signature of Gerda Steyn last season, Phantane Athletic Club have done it again in 2024. Where they signed the country’s best female marathon and ultra marathon athlete in 2023, this time around the KwaZulu-Natal based club have managed to lure some of South Africa’s best middle distance stars. Club founder and head coach Mdu Khumalo explains the importance of signing these top runners in an Olympic year.

Tshite narrowly missed out on a spot in the finals of the 1500m at the 2023World Championships in Budapest, after going out in the semi-finals. Photo Credit: Supplied.

“We all know that this is a very big year for athletics. As Phantane athletics club we are so grateful to attract athletes like Prudence Sekgodiso, Tshepo Tshite and Johannes Morepe. We also tied the knot with Fikile Mbuthuma and Jabulani Ncamane,” he told #TheTopRunner.

Coached by Samuel Sepeng and based in Pretoria at the Tuks Stadium for most of their careers, the move will see Sekgodišo, Tshite and recently matriculated Johannes Morepe from Hoërskool Vorentoe in Johannesburg, relocate to Durban, where they will contest the KZN Athletics Senior track & Field Championships. Khumalo hopes that the presence of a multiple SA 800m and 1500m champion like Sekgodišo and a World Championship semi-finalist such as Tshite in the club will motivate his up and coming athletes who will now be able to explore some of Africa’s finest athletes from close quarters.

“When I started the club the vision was simple; to keep kids away from the street and give them a platform to showcase their talent. It was not in my mind that one day the club will be as massive as is today. This is like a dream come true because this will have big impact on our development. It will motivate them. It is a big thing not only for the club but for the entire province because it also changes the perception that our athletes must leave our province to pursue better opportunities.”

The man who coined the phrase ‘Ayishe leyompahla,’ thanked the club’s sponsors for sharing his vision and allowing them to make an impact on society. “None of this would be possible without our sponsors, especially our main sponsor Totalsports. We’d also like to thank Umgeni Water because they were there at the beginning when we started with this project. It shows when you do something out of your heart and not competing to anyone but yourself we are now reaping the fruit of all the hard work put in.” 

Coach Mdu Khumalo with the late Mbuleli Mathanga after the latter won the 2023 Totalsports Two Oceans Half Marathon. Photo Credit: MWMedia.

With the ink barely dry on the contracts, Phantane AC can now plan for the season ahead. The man who moulded the late Mbuleli Mathanga into one of the preeminent forces in SA middle and long distance before his untimely passing last year, says his aim this season is simple. He wants to contribute to national success with the top runners that have now joined the club, while continuing to inspire future champions.

“We wanna contribute to SA’s success at a global level, get medals at nationals, give hope to the upcoming athletes and also to create a solid platform for the young ones. We had a very good 21 day camp in December. What was different about this one is that we had more than 25 athletes, where the previous year was around 15. As you know the camp is more about race strategy, discipline, building up for track season and also keeping them away from December chaos.”

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