A young Soweto resident from Zola 2 and student-athlete of the University of Johannesburg’s (UJ) Athletics Club, Chris Mhlanga, has shot to the top in the 2023 University Sport South Africa (USSA) championships which were held in Bloemfontein from 04 to 06 May 2023. Mhlanga delivered an exceptional performance in the 10,000-meter (29:49.47) and 21km (1:10.29) distance runs on the first and last days of the championships, securing gold medals in both events.
Prior to the USSA track and field athletics championships, Mhlanga had not won any medal in a formal competition.
In Bloemfontein, the calm and highly competitive Mhlanga raised his hand for future athletics competitions for both UJ and South Africa. He dominated the USSA championships, demonstrating incredible speed, agility, and technique.
Just 10 years ago, Mhlanga was a learner at Usu’lihle Primary School. In his community, he was a soccer player, but at school he participated in athletics events. It was during this period that his teacher, Mr Mandla Buthelezi, encouraged him to focus on athletics.
His ambitions include representing South Africa in international competitions. “I would like to represent South Africa at the global stage like most of my UJ training partners,” says Mhlanga.
In the past, Mhlanga represented the Gauteng Province in Potchefstroom.
To keep fit, he trains daily. “I go to training almost everyday and make sure that I don’t skip a session – because that has a huge impact on the road/track if an athlete is fit. I honestly don’t have a strict daily diet, but I eat a lot of greens and chicken,” he says.
He adds, “I realized I could do well in athletics when I joined the UJ group. It took me months to keep up with some of the guys in training.”
Mhlanga trains and competes with UJ student-athletes who have competed in continental and international championships who represent South Africa and other countries. However, he is also inspired by the likes of Precious Lesiba Mashele who is one of his training partners at the Zoo Lake Training group.
Speaking about his USSA achievements, Mhlanga says he expected to win some medals after his performances in the 2022 USSA cross country championships in Mahikeng, North West Province where he finished in second place in the 10,000m race. He is among the dedicated UJ student-athletes who won medals in the 2023 USSA track and field championships.