Top South African half marathon road runner Melikhaya Frans has been invited to participate in the Tet Riga marathon in Scandinavia in May. This is one of the few races in the world that has been awarded the prestigious International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) Road Race Gold Label. The race is the first marathon in Northern Europe to receive the award.
Over 30 000 runners are expected to participate from 65 countries. This will be a golden opportunity for Frans to measures his strength ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Frans wants to improve his time and technique in 2019. He has been exposed to major races since 2015 including the SA Champs. In 2018, he participated in World Champs in Spain were he came in the top 60 with a half marathon time of 63 minutes. This weekend Frans and his team mates will run the Two Ocean Marathon in Cape Town in the 21km category whilst others will do the full 56kms. This weekend, runners will participate in the Freedom Run, the only race to be run through a township in Nelson Mandela Bay.
Frans says that he wants to make his community and country proud.
“I am training very hard twice a day; I want to make my community and my country proud one day. It’s not easy but it can be done. My aim is run good times ahead of the Tokyo Olympics; if you want to be the best, then you must compete against the best.”
Marathon runner Luyanda Tshangana, says that it is every runner’s dream to win the Two Oceans marathon.
“It’s every dream to win Two Oceans, but my coach is so convinced that we can run good times. We are all in good spirits and confident too.”
Local coach, Mike Mbambani is the brains behind the success of these athletics. He established Ikamva Athletics Club in 2011 with 30 athletes. The club now has over 60 road runners. Mbambani says that vision 2020 is showing them positive signs.
“Vision 2020 is showing us positive signs. When we started people were laughing at us but we knew what we were doing. They train hard with technique and mentally, they are very strong. They want to make their community proud and I train them so that they could be role models one day.”
Ikamva Athletics Club hopes to send more young road runners to major events and expose them to top races in Europe.