The University of Johannesburg (UJ) Athletics Club was crowned champions of the 2023 University Sport South Africa (USSA) championships on Saturday, 6 May 2023 in Bloemfontein. The UJ A team won the competition by 350 points – 43 ahead of second-placed North West University Potchefstroom A.
UJ scooped 29 medals; 14 gold, 10 silver and 5 bronze medals. The team comprised 68 student-athletes who were split into A and B squads. They competed in 34 events, including, among others; sprints and middle-distance running, long-, high- and triple-jump, hammer throw, discus, and shotput.
Gold medalists: Tsebo Matsoso (200m), Lythe Pillay (400m), Nkosinathi Sibiya (1500m), Ryan Mphahlele (5000m), Chris Mhlanga (10,000m and 21km), Onkabetse Sebola (3000m Steeplechase), Sabelo Dhlamini (400m Hurdles), Nolwazi Mashaba (triple jump), Dane Roets (shot put), Leandri Geel (Hammer), UJ A Relay Team (4x400m) made up of Sabelo Dhlamini, Lythe Pillay, Boikanyo Motlhamme, and Tsebo Matsoso, Men’s and Women’s Team Competition 21km (2 gold medals).
Silver medalists: Kayla La Grange (200m), Nhlanhla Maseko (400m), Boikanyo Motlhamme (800m), Sisanda Dumusa (5000m and 10,000m), Themba Thingane (10,000m), Tshepo (Lefete 110m Hurdles), Tshwanelo Aabobe (high jump), Werner Wisser (Discus), UJ A 4x100m Women’s Relay Team (Raissa Kyembo, Joviale Mbisha, Rorisang Padi, and Kayla La Grange), Men’s 4×100 Relay Team (Duke Kuali, Retshidisitswe Mlenga, Karabo Satekge, and Tsebo Matsoso), and the UJ B Relay Team (Michael Madi, Nhlanhla Maseko, Kabelo Mahalabelo, and Mbuso Nyambi).
Bronze medalists: Joviale Mbisha (200m), Phemelo Note (5000m), Karabo More (10,000m and 21km), Khunedi Mashishi (3000m Steeplechase), and Mahlatse Dombeni (triple jump).
According to Roger Haitengi, Manager and Coach: UJ Athletics Club, UJ aimed to the top spot going into this year’s USSA championships. “In the past two years we finished in second and third places, respectively. This year, we had to change from those same spots to avoid being stagnant. Our club has an intense and strict training schedule and we strongly believe that we can challenge for any local and national competitions.
“I’m proud of what the two UJ teams achieved. I’m also happy that we have a long list of youngsters who will prolong the UJ dominance in South African university athletics competitions,” says Haitengi.
From the first day, UJ’s strategic approach to garner many medals was evident through Onkabetse Sebola’s gold medal win in the opening event, senior men’s 3000m steeplechase. Chris Mhlanga’s gold medal win soon followed in the 10,000m together with Themba Thingane in second place. Similarly in the women’s 10,000m race, Sisanda Dumisa scooped UJ’s first silver medal in the women’s 10,000m race with Karabo More settling for a bronze medal.
With a shorter opening programme for Thursday, UJ’s student-athletes such as Nkosinathi Sibiya, Ntuthuko Ndimande, and Ryan Mphahlele started making inroads, qualifying for the finals scheduled for Friday and Saturday. In the second and third day of the championships, UJ continued its pursuit for glory winning additional gold, silver and bronze medals. Moreover, with the tournaments’ officials counting team points per participating athlete, UJ was on course to challenge for the top spot in the overall results.
UJ’s shining youngsters to look out for in big competitions both for UJ and South Africa included Pillay, Matsoso, Dhlamini, Geel, Roets, Mashaba, Sebola and Mhlanga.