Gqeberha speedster ready for next assignment

Madibaz athlete Ntiyiso Nkanyani was crowned national U20 champion in the 400m hurdles in Pretoria last week
MEMORABLE VICTORY: Madibaz athlete Ntiyiso Nkanyani was crowned national U20 champion in the 400m hurdles in Pretoria last week

Rising Madibaz speedster Ntiyiso Nkanyani, who set a personal best to annex the 400m hurdles title at the U20 nationals last week, is hoping to impress against even stiffer competition at the USSA championships in Stellenbosh this week.

“My goal is to try to make the podium since I will be competing with senior athletes who have been doing this for a much longer time,” Nkanyani, who slashed his personal best by almost a second to take gold in Pretoria, said.

On that occasion, the first-year BSc student surged over the line in 50.87 to annihilate his previous personal best of 51.80.

On the back of limited competition this year, no-one was more surprised than the Nelson Mandela University student himself.

“I took my time to get into my blocks and then soon after the gun went I knew I had to make my move.

“I wanted to lay down a marker so that my opposition would have to attack me.

“From the 350m mark, I just pushed as hard as I could.”

Worried that he might “burn out before the end”, he was surprised to round the final bend in first, but duly held on for a memorable victory.

“At first I couldn’t believe it, but I was in heaven when it sank in.

“I have dedicated my whole life to achieving success and it came as a shock. God works in mysterious ways.”

To win was one thing, but to better his personal best by such a huge margin was another.

“It’s all a bit crazy because I haven’t run all that much this season and was not in the shape I really wanted to be in.”

Nkanyani, who grew up in Mashishing in Mpumalanga, showed that he had a talent for hurdling when he swept aside the rest of the field in a 150m race at junior school.

“While I developed a love for hurdles, I wasn’t that good an athlete until Covid-19 hit.

“During that time, I worked very hard and it paid off.”

The new national champion also competes in the 110m hurdles and 400m, but favours the demanding 400m hurdles discipline.

“If you think the 400m is tough, think about doing that with hurdles in between.

“It is definitely one of the toughest events,” Nkanyani, whose idol is Jamaican sprinting great Usain Bolt, said.

He attributes much of his speed over the one-lapper to the ability to lead off with his weaker leg.

“If you lose your rhythm and jump with the wrong leg, you are going to lose time and possibly even fall.

“It’s your ability to hold your rhythm and jump with your weaker leg that leads to success.”

The USSAs get under way on Wednesday.




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