Mthunzi Mnisi will line up in Pretoria as the firm favourite to retain his ultra-distance crown. Photo: Mthunzi Mnisi on facebook

PRETORIA – Defending champion Mthunzi Mnisi is confident of his chances of clinching his fifth successive national title on Saturday at the 2019 ASA 50km Race Walking Championships to be held at the University of Pretoria sports grounds in Tshwane.

With Canada-based national record holder Marc Mundell missing from the entry lists, Mnisi will turn out as the firm favourite to retain his ultra-distance crown. 

"My training has gone well," he said. "I've been able to train more than I have over the last few years and I think I'm in much better shape. It's at high altitude, but you need to be able to race anywhere as an athlete, so I'm confident."

While Mnisi will not have to deal with Mundell, he is unlikely to have things all his own way, with last year's silver medallist Aaron Mahlangu of KwaZulu-Natal Athletics aiming to cause an upset. He, nonetheless, believes he has what it takes to secure a historic victory.

"It will mean a lot to win again because it will be a step up for me. I wasn't sure if I was going to go for it this year, but I've been able to prepare well. I've decided I want to keep going over the 50km distance for another few years."

Mthunzi Mnisi is confident of his chances of clinching his fifth successive national title on Saturday. Photo: Mthunzi Mnisi on facebook

In the women's race, defending champion and SA record holder Natalie le Roux has not been included on the entry lists.

In her absence, Fundiswa Sandi of Western Province Athletics (WPA) will turn out as the favourite against a small field, though it remains a wide-open contest on paper. 

Aside from the ASA 50km Race Walking Championships, the showpiece includes inter-provincial events across a wide range of distances in all age groups.

In the men's inter-provincial 20km event, perennial rivals Lebogang Shange of Central Gauteng Athletics (CGA) and Wayne Snyman (AGN) are expected to battle it out in what could be a thrilling race. 

African News Agency (ANA)