Pietermaritzburg’s Sokhela crowned U.S Colleges’ Track Athlete of the Year

accreditation
0:00
play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
Pietermaritzburg’s middle-distance runner Zola Sokhela was crowned the Track Athlete of the Year in the U.S.
Pietermaritzburg’s middle-distance runner Zola Sokhela was crowned the Track Athlete of the Year in the U.S.

Pietermaritzburg’s rising middle-distance runner Zola Sokhela, who is now based in the USA, has won a big award abroad in a short space of time in a foreign country.

The talented Sokhela moved to California in January after matriculating at Michaelhouse and is studying political science at Santa Barbara’s Westmont College.

To say the talented middle-distance runner has hit the ground running in the USA would really be an understatement.

“This award is not just for me. This is for my coach, training partners, team, and everyone who supports me. There is a lot more to come.”
Middle-distance runner, Zola Sokhela

On Tuesday, the 19-year-old from Sweetwaters was crowned the 2021 National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Men’s Outdoor Track Athlete of the Year.

NAIA is a college athletics association for small colleges and universities in North America and has at least 249 members.

The teenager has won a number of races from different distances that include 400 m to 1 500 m since his arrival at Westmont.

According to the College, Sokhela led its men’s track and field to the highest placing in the programme’s history, position four, after winning national titles in both 800 m and 1 500 m at the NAIA Outdoor National Championships.

“Winning this award is something I did not expect. Even with my performance at nationals, this is still very surprising,” said Sokhela according to the college’s website.

“This boy won 400 m, 800 m and 1 500 m races a space of two days in a single provincial championships event, but no one noticed that in the country. Also at the national level, he won 800 m and 1 500 m, something that is not usual, and still he was not noticed. I’m very happy he is being honoured in America.”
Running coach, Xolani Mabhida.

“This award is not just for me. This is for my coach, training partners, team, and everyone who supports me. There is a lot more to come.”

Before he left for the USA, Sokhela was under the tutelage of respected running and two-time Comrades Marathon winning coach Xolani Mabhida.

Mabhida said he was not really surprised with Sokhela success abroad as he has always been a great talent, but the coach is just happy that he is being honoured.

“To be honest, I think he has arrived in a country where people are going to notice his achievements because even here in KwaZulu-Natal, he was doing pretty much the same thing,” said Mabhida.

ALSO READ | Maritzburg runnner Sokhela leaves for U.S. promises to lift budding athletes.

“This boy won 400 m, 800 m and 1 500 m races a space of two days in a single provincial championships event, but no one noticed that in the country.

“Also at the national level, he won 800 m and 1 500 m, something that is not usual, and still he was not noticed. I’m very happy he is being honoured in America.”

Last year, The in Ameri Witness reported that Sokhela was the only KZN athlete who was selected for the South African World Athletics U20 Championships preparation squad.

The World U20 Champs are scheduled to take place in Kenya next year from August 17.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Daily Poll
The R350 Social Relief of Distress Grant will be reinstated until March 2022, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced on Sunday. What are your thoughts on this matter?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
I think it’s great, people need help
16% - 49 votes
Where will the money come from?
58% - 174 votes
The R350 grant should be permanent
25% - 75 votes
Vote
Latest Issue

View The Witness in PDF

Latest Issue
Read the latest news from KZN in digital form.
Read now