Nicole van der Merwe continued her stellar performances in middle distance running, scooping a silver medal in the women’s 4km run during the national cross-country championships in Amanzimtoti in KwaZulu-Natal on 18 September 2021.
Van der Merwe, who is inspired by the legendary Zola Budd, is a University of Johannesburg (UJ) student-athlete who has done well in the 2021 athletics season. She also won gold, silver and bronze medals in the University Sport South Africa (USSA) championships in May this year.
The women’s 4km line-up included former UJ student-athlete, Cian Oldknow (won a gold medal), and former national marathon champion, Cornelia Jourbert who ran for Central Gauteng Atheltics (CGA), together with South Africa’s 1 500m champion Danielle Verster (ACNW), Simonay Weitsz (AGN) and Yandiswa Shange (WPA).
“Leading up to the ASA Cross-Country Championships, my training went well. I kept my mind positive and so my body followed. Competing in the Spar Grand Prix series helped me with my preparation for Championships because I got more confident in my running and stronger for running longer. On the day of the Championships, I knew that it won’t be easy with Cian Oldknow also competing in the 4km, but I remained positive and gave it my all,” says van der Merwe.
The Amanzimtoti championship was held over two days, with Day 1 dedicated to the youngest category of 8-13-year-old runners who provided a colourful start, while the 14-49 years rounded off the two-day event.
“My set plan was to give everything I can in the race and be happy with whatever the outcome might be. I had so much fun on the course; it was something different with some hills and some flat parts, but it was just great racing at that level again. I increased my pace towards the end of the race and I was very happy with my silver medal finish.
“This is another medal at ASA Cross Country Championships to add to my collection, but much more effort put in to get to where I am, with minor injuries that were put on my way. I’m keeping my head up and always excited with seeing what my body can do,” says van der Merwe.