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Sprint ace devastated to miss out on European season

I’d give anything to run competitively again - Munyai

Clarence Munyai
Clarence Munyai
Image: Roger Sedres/Gallo Images

SA’s 200m record holder Clarence Munyai’s plans to race in Europe did not materialise because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The 22-year-old sprinter was supposed to run a couple of races abroad.

Munyai, who is trained by renowned athletics coach Hennie Kriel at the High Performance Centre at the University of Pretoria, is itching to return to the track. “Oh God, I miss racing. I keep on smiling at the track, and I sometimes wish that I can put on my spikes and race.

"I had planned to race in Europe, but my agent and I were frustrated by the travelling regulations, and it could not happen. I was dying to be a part of the European season,” said Munyai.

Two years ago, he clocked 19.69 seconds to smash the SA 200m record in Tshwane at the Tuks Stadium. 

Munyai enjoys a close relationship with SA’s sprint ace and Commonwealth goal medallist Akani Simbine. The two friends kept each other company playing computer games during the lockdown as a coping mechanism. “I love PlayStation and Akani and I regularly play games together. I also got in touch with other athletes through text messages and phone calls for motivation,” he said.  

Munyai’s training partners are 400m Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Wenda Nel, Gift Leotlela and Rikennette Steenkamp. “Nel teaches me not to give up on my dreams and tells me never to stop working hard,” he told Sowetan.

Tuks has recently opened its training facilities for athletes to train again, and Munyai is happy to access their world-class facilities. “I trained on the road and got to experience some nice hills. The coach has knocked me back into shape, but I’d give anything to run competitively again,” said Munyai. 

The Tshwane-based speedster had a terrible experience at the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) World Championships in Doha, Qatar, last year. But he says that he has put it behind him to focus on qualifying for the Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan, next year.

“The biggest lesson from Doha is that I must be ready on the day of the event. I went into the championships in the top 10 in the world but learnt that I must put a race together and be mentally ready. I’m still young and willing to rectify my mistakes. I will be a different athlete at the Olympics next year.”  

Munyai also confirmed that he was among the lucky athletes to receive the R20,000 relief fund money from the minister of sports Nathi Mthethwa.

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