Ironman thrill for netball star

Zanele Mdodana is gearing up to cross the Ironman finish line.
Zanele Mdodana is gearing up to cross the Ironman finish line.
Image: Fredlin Adriaan

Former Port Elizabeth netball star Zanele Mdodana has been invited to take part in the Ironman 70.3 World Championship.

Although entries are already full for the endurance race taking place in Port Elizabeth for the first time, Mdodana said she was thrilled to have been invited thanks to Bay charity Ironman4theKidz.

Meanwhile, the Ironman Africa Championship takes place in Nelson Mandela Bay this weekend.

It consists of a 3.8km swim followed by 180km cycle and 42km run.

Mdodana, a New Brighton-born sportswoman and former national netball player who now works at Stellenbosch University, said she was excited about competing in the Ironman 70.3 World Championship in September.

The race consists of a 1.9km swim, 90.1km bike race and a 21.1km run. “This is a chance to race in front of my home crowd,” she said.

The athlete said that since retiring from international netball in 2015 she had wanted to take part in the ultra-endurance race.

“I have dreamt of doing an Ironman since 2008.

“I realised that dream in 2014 and 2015 when I completed the Standard Bank Ironman 70.3 in East London. Next year I look forward to doing the full Ironman.

“It does not matter if you cannot swim, ride a bike or run, if you have a dream to do something, you can.”
Mdodana said that when she started she had had minimal expertise in triathlon sports, but faith and determination had driven her to realise her dream.

“I learnt how to swim at the age of 28. I had to join a swimming school to learn open-water swimming because I had a dream of completing a triathlon.

“I didn’t have a bicycle. I saved up to buy bike parts and friends built my first Silverback bike for me.

“I was always an athlete, but a sprinter not an endurance long-distance runner.

“I joined a club and started with 5km runs until I could complete marathons. “

Last month, Ironman4theKids approached Mdodana and her best friend, former Proteas netball goalkeeper Adele Niemand, to race for it in the Ironman 70.3 World Championship.

“It is a great honour for us because not only will we be competing in the first Ironman 70.3 World Championship in our country but because it is in my home town, Nelson Mandela Bay,” Mdodana said.

“This opportunity supersedes any triathlon dreams we ever had.”

Mdodana, the mother of 10-year-old Zukolwakhe, said she hoped to show the youngster that nothing was impossible.

Dreams were valid and could be achieved.