‘It’s so crazy’: Adriaan Wildschutt gets set for Olympics after SA 10 000m record

Adriaan Wildschutt, seen here at the 2022 world championships in Oregon, is aiming for glory in the 10 000m at the Paris Olympics. AFP

Adriaan Wildschutt, seen here at the 2022 world championships in Oregon, is aiming for glory in the 10 000m at the Paris Olympics. AFP

Published Mar 20, 2024


He’s broken the South African records in the 10 000m, 5 000m and 3 000m, and now Adriaan Wildschutt wants to perform when it matters most: at the Paris Olympics later this year.

The 25-year-old US-based long-distance runner from Ceres in the Western Cape beat his own 10 000m mark last Saturday in California, when he ran 26:55.54 to finish sixth in The Ten event.

That improved his previous mark of 27:23.10 that he produced last year, to go with his SA 5 000m record of 12:56.76 he ran in Boston in January.

So, Wildschutt has now qualified for the Olympics in both the 5 000m and 10 000m events.

“It’s kind of surreal. Right now, I don’t really realise how fast I’ve just ran. But looking back on it in weeks to come, (I will realise) it’s actually really impressive – improving the South African record by over 20 seconds ... it’s a lot,” Wildschutt said in an interview with FloTrack after his race.

“It means a lot to me because I come from a weird background where the South African record was only 27:28 a year ago – until I broke it and bettered it to 27:23.

“Now it’s under 27 minutes, and I know that will mean a lot to South Africans and people and athletes that look up to me.

“While I’m talking, I’m thinking about it – it’s so crazy! But I am really grateful for that, and I want to continue to improve. I also want to compete at the moments when it really matters, like the Olympics and the bigger events.

“So, it means a lot to me, and I know my family is proud of me. And I know my late dad is proud of me as well, so I continue to do that for my family and fans.”

Wildschutt started out his senior career at UWC before earning a scholarship at the Coastal Carolina University in Conway, South Carolina, where he graduated with a business degree.

He then moved to Florida State University, where he completed his MBA in Tallahassee.

He is now a member of the HOKA NAZ Elite athletics group based in Flagstaff, Arizona, but intends to take part in the SA Championships in Potchefstroom next month before running in Europe in June.

After reaching last year’s world championship final in Budapest – where he finished 14th in 28:21.40 – he could become a medal contender at the Olympics, with his new SA 10 000m record being quick enough to have placed him eighth on the 2023 world list.

Meanwhile, another local track athlete who recently qualified for the Olympics is women’s 800m star, Prudence Sekgodiso.

The 22-year-old, who hopes to break Caster Semenya’s superb 800m SA mark of 1:54.25 one day, produced a personal best in Pretoria two weeks ago to win her race.

Her time of 1.58.06 was the second-fastest 800m time by a South African, behind Semenya, and she followed it up with another sub-two-minute effort at the Athletics SA Grand Prix II event at the same Tuks Stadium on Monday, clocking 1:59.93 after initially planning to run a 3 000m race, which was cancelled due to insufficient entries.

“We were going for a sub-nine minutes in the 3 000m, and in training, I really showed that we could go for that time. So I was disappointed not to do that, but the journey continues,” Sekgodiso told Athletics SA’s Facebook page.

“I feel good about this year. My goals are to compete in more Diamond League races and reach the 800m final at the Olympic Games (in Paris in August).”