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Wayde van Niekerk: Here’s why I want South Africans to join me for the Vitality Running World Cup

As country captain in the global, mass participation event, the Vitality Running World Cup, Wayde says South Africans can tackle this tough year by getting back into fitness.

“Looking back at this year, in so many ways it’s really been crazy and generally tough. Not only did the COVID-19 pandemic create inconsistencies with socialising and interaction, it also affected our fitness. So, now is the perfect time to get off the couch!” says the Olympian.

“For me, it is super exciting to be part of an initiative such as the Vitality Running World Cup because it lets us participate safely and bring some joy into the country again. I know so many of us have been working from home and not in our usual fitness routines but it’s time to slowly but surely get back into it,” says Wayde. 

“The Vitality Running World Cup is the perfect opportunity to get SA moving again. Get out of the home offices, which I know makes us lazier, and refresh from all the unhealthy habits, get back to our healthy lifestyles. It’s really just about breaking the ice and starting a routine that we can stick to,” he says. 

It takes mental strength to get moving

Wayde says he is doubly motivated by his performance at the recent Tokyo Olympics. “I know that I didn’t get to execute my race as well as I’d have liked to because there was a mental aspect that I hadn’t considered. I had an issue with my back and I know now that my mind was not centered, and that can set you back.”

He adds: “To get to where I want to be, I have to compete more. It’s practice. I know it’s not really an endurance issue, it’s a consistency issue.” 

The same goes for those South Africans who haven’t been able to motivate themselves to get moving more during the pandemic. “South Africa managed to reach gold in the previous Vitality Running World Cup before the pandemic paused the event. Being the country captain again gives me a chance to help unite us as a country.”

“One of our strengths is that we are motivated and inspired by sport. We’ve had a good number of medals from the Olympics, Paralympics, the Junior World Championships, which is inspiring. Even though we’ve had a tough year as a country, we’re still finding our positives.” 

He says the mass participation event is not for athletes like himself, but ordinary people who want to be fit and healthy. “Qualifying runs are just 3 km in 30 minutes, which most people can manage if they’re in good health. Importantly it will bring back the smiles and motivation to get people off their couches, so join me and be part of my team. Let’s train together, get the winning momentum back and get the gold again. I’m looking forward to running with you to represent South Africa.” 

From 21 September to 21 October 2021, the Vitality Running World Cup will give everyone the chance to represent their country in the free-to-enter, knockout, global running competition. Open to anyone over the age of 13, everyone who completes a minimum of three kilometres in under 30 minutes and tracks their kilometres with a smartphone or fitness device, will be able to contribute towards their country’s total. It’s free to enter by signing up at runningworldcup.com. DM


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