Team South Africa dominate 50km African Champs
Not that the young coach, renowned for being the brains behind Bongmusa Mthembu’s standing as the king of ultra running in the country, was surprised.
Far from it, for Mabhida went to Sagamu, Nigeria, knowing his team would be successful.
“We had a very strong team and it would have actually been a disappointment had we not done as well as we did,” Mabhida said of South Africa’s victory in both the men and women’s races.
“I am very excited with the way the team accounted for itself.”
Thobile Mbolekwa and Sanelisiwe Mbanjwa were both victorious as Team SA ended the year on a high after the country won the men’s team prize at the IAU World 50km Championships earlier this year.
Mbolekwa won the race in three hours and two seconds, while Mthokozidi Mazibuko came sixth and Sekhonyane finished 10th.
Mbanjwa clocked 3:34.05 to win the women’s race and her teammate Leilani Scheffer came home in third spot (3:48.01) while Cobie Smith was fifth.
“I would like to congratulate my team and personally it was great in that I had trained some of the athletes in the team,” said Mabhida.
“I worked with Sanelisiwe before she moved to Mduduzi Khumalo. She is a very brave athlete and I am not surprised she won the gold medal. She is doing well and if she can continue to take instructions from her coach, she will be a great star. She reminds of Elana Meyer.”
Of the men’s team, Mabhida spoke highly of Mbolekwa.
“Thobile is my athlete and I know him very well. He is deserving of this success and I am sure it will boost his confidence. His training for the big events is going well but I cannot say now whether he is ready to win next year’s Two Oceans or not. But just like Sanelisiwe, he has a great future ahead of him.
“Mazibuko was running his first ultra and to finish sixth was a great achievement. He has not missed a step in running as he started on track before he took up road running. He also has a great future. Sekhonyane was also good on the day as he finished 10th.
“We brought home five medals in all. These athletes need to be nurtured as they are great talents. It should not end here,” said Mabhida.
Given the country’s passion for ultra marathons, there can be no doubt that the future is bright for these athletes.