Melikhaya Frans, a South African long-distance road runner, says winning the Nelson Mandela Bay 21km Half Marathon has opened many doors internationally, including endorsements.
Frans has now been included on the South African Team to compete in the World Championships Half Marathon to be held in the USA next month and preparations for the race have been smooth for the Gqeberha-based road runner.
He has been exposed to international top races since 2018 and since then, he has never looked back despite many setbacks. Frans is part of the successful Ikamva Athletics Club. The club was established in 2010 with only 30 road runners and it has since grown to over 50 road runners.
The club’s aim is to nurture and develop young athletics from the township. Frans is left with only four weeks until he jets off to America where he hopes to win a medal for his country. He broke the Eastern Province Half Marathon record which was previously held by Ezael Thlobo since 1997.
Frans ran one hour, one minute and three seconds during the Nelson Mandela Bay Half Marathon. He beat top SA runners such as Stephen Mokoka and Precious Mashele to become champions.
“I knew I can beat them in this race. My body felt so good and I knew I could go faster than that. I am excited to compete or to be selected for the world champ,” says Frans.
Another promising runner is Thabang Mosiako. Mosiako is set to compete at the ABSA 10 KM Road Race to be held in Durban next month. He is groomed here at Ikamva Athletics Club.
“I am hoping to break the SA record and I believe I can. I train very hard daily here. The environment is good here. Guys are nice which makes it easier to perform,” says Mosiako.
Mike Mbambani is the brains behind the success of this club. Mbambani feels more could be done to develop more road runners if support is given.
“When we started, nobody gave us a chance, to be honest. It was slow but we had a vision, and our athletes responded well to our training techniques. We are so proud and Frans keeps on raising the country’s flag very high, proud moments and we must keep producing more and many of my athletes are very young,” says Mbambani.
Melikhaya Frans aims to accumulate more points as he wishes to compete at the 2024 Olympics in France, a dream he believes can become a reality.