BackTrack Athlete of the week! 

Week 25: 24-30 May 2021:

We continue to celebrate the achievements of SA athletes as we draw nearer to the Olympic Games! We’re tracking back to look at some of the amazing performances posted by South Africans in the last week of May.

Here’s a look at the candidates for AOW:

Elroy Gelant: Marathon Gelant was in action at the Capital Retail Langa Marathon in Cape Town and he needed a great showing in this competition as part of his build up to the Olympic Games in Tokyo. Gelant did exactly that running a fantastic 2:11:22 but most importantly getting a confidence boosting victory. The Capital Retail Langa Marathon was very unique in that it was run at the Killarney International Raceway which saw the athletes running loops on a race course.

Precious Mashele: 5000m

Mashele has proved tough to beat in 2021, be it in the 5000m, 10 000m or Half Marathon. Mashele has grown into the next heir to the distance crown showing his versatility on and off the track. He came into the Newton Classic Qualifiers powered by BackTrack undefeated and the next goal on his target was to get the Olympic Games qualifying standard of 13:13.50 and he looked good for it. Unfortunately, the windy conditions in Durban made it extremely difficult for him to achieve this but he walked away with a second place finish in a time of 13:23.68 PB (personal best) behind Kenyan, Daniel Simiu-Ebenyo who ran the Olympic Games qualifying standard with an impressive 13:12.26.

Caster Semenya 5000

Semenya was set to compete at the Newton Classic Qualifiers in what was the most eagerly anticipated race in South Africa and also the running community all over the world. Everyone was anxious and curious to know if Caster Semenya would qualify for the Olympic Games. Conditions however did not come to the party as the wind at Kingspark Stadium was relentless making it difficult for any fast times. Semenya and her training partner Glenrose Xaba put in a resilient effort whilst exchanging pacing duties to make sure that they get that ever-important qualification mark of 15:10.00. They fell short even though Semenya walked away with a massive PB time of 15:32.14. The journey to the Olympic Games continues…

Dais Malebana: 1500m

Malebana has had a sensational season which has seen him soar up in the University of Nebraska all-time record books both indoor and outdoor. Malebana was in action over the 1500m at the NCAA Prelimary West Round Championships in Texas, USA at Cushing Stadium (Texas A&M). Malebana had the mission of qualifying for the NCAA Championships finals to be held in Oregon, and he did so successfully whilst clocking a PB of 3:39.36 for 6th place, mission achieved.

Adrian Wildschutt: 10 000m

Wildschutt is currently having the season of his life which has seen him clocking numerous personal best times on the track both indoor and outdoor. Most impressive of these was the national record he set at 13:30.55 in the indoor 5000m which was previously held by the legendary former world record holder, Sydnee Maree. The performance however which has landed Wildschutt on this list was his second-place finish at the NCAA Preliminary West Round Championships in Jacksonville, Florida, USA. Wildschutt clocked a time of 28:37.77 to book his ticket to Oregon for the NCAA Championships finals again solidifying his status as one of the most promising distance runners in SA.

Leroux Hamman: 400m Hurdles

Hamman has been on a roll of late and is looking sharper with each race. At the AGN league at Tuks, he again went under 50 seconds in the hurdles and this time around getting another victory and in a season best time of 49.63 seconds. The SA Champion is working his way closing to the sub 49 seconds mark one race at a time and with his consistency this far it might just take one race in perfect conditions to happen. The Olympic qualifying mark sits at 48.90 which would require him to run a personal best to book his ticket to Tokyo.

AOW: Shaun Phatutshedzo Maswanganyi 100m and 200m

Shaun Phatutshedzo Maswanganyi is a name on the tongue of everyone in the track community in South Africa and America with his back-to-back excellent performances and consistency since the indoor season began in January. Adaption phase in the USA has been smoothly conquered and now he is on elevation phase. After his magical performance of 9.87 seconds in the 100m and 19.93 in the 200m albeit wind aided, Maswanganyi has captured the attention of the whole world whilst still just a freshman (first year student). This time around there was no wind or dispute to the talent that is Maswanganyi after he clocked a wind legal 10.04 seconds in the 100m and 20.19 seconds in the 200m which are both Olympic Games qualifying performances. This has earned him the BackTrack Athlete of the Week!


Congrats to all the nominees! Thanks for keeping the standard of SA athletics high.


Photo credit: Houston Track & Field


Written by Themba Madima