Ashburton cross country runner Taonga Mbambo’s build-up to the Australian Cross Country Championships took a big leap forward last weekend.
The Ashburton member of the Canterbury University Athletics Club participated at the New Zealand Cross Country Championships as part of the Canterbury athletics team and from a field of 43 runners, finished third in the men’s under-18 race.
He covered the 6km distance is a time of 22.07 minutes to come home with a bronze medal.
With that done, he was now turning his attention to a trip to Australia later this month with the New Zealand secondary schools’ team where he’d compete in the Australian Cross Country Championships.
Mbambo said all he did would not have been possible without the help of the Ashburton community, which had supported him as he set about raising funds to be a part of that team to get to Australia.
It has been a big year for Mbambo.
Earlier this year he broke a record that had stood for 37 years at the Ashburton College athletics finals day, with his new record time of 9.24.8 minutes around six seconds faster than the previous record set by Bruce Gabites.
He then went on to set a new record for the under-19 men’s 3000m at the Aorakis, and at the South Island Secondary School Athletics Championships Mbambo was fourth in the under 19 men’s 3000m, finishing just seconds behind the winner in 9.01.39 minutes. He was also eighth in the 1500m.
At the Ashburton College school cross country he was first to cross the finish line in the 4km senior boys’ race in 12 minutes 47 seconds.
Mbambo was also part of the Ashburton College team that contested the Canterbury secondary schools’ road race in May.
The team was third overall, with Mbambo the fourth individual across the line. His selection into the New Zealand secondary schools’ cross country team to travel to the Australian Championships followed his sixth place finish at the New Zealand Secondary Schools’ Cross Country in Taupo where he ran a time of 19.50 minutes.
Mbambo will travel to Australia’s Sunshine Coast in August for the Australian Open and Schools Cross Country Championships later this month.
Article courtesy of the Ashburton Guardian
The NZSSAA Cross Country Team is:
Samuel Tanner Bethlehem College
Liam Back Wanganui Collegiate
Murdoch McIntyre Westlake Boys High School
David Moore Westlake Boys High School
Stuart Hofmeyr Westlake Boys High School
Taonga Mbambo Ashburton College
Zach Bellamy Wanganui Collegiate
Hannah O'Connor Sacred Heart Girls' College (New Plymouth)
Kirstie Rae Wellington East Girls' College
Aimee Ferguson Rototuna Senior High School
Rebecca Baker Whanganui High School
Sarah Lambert Wanganui Collegiate
Olivia Cummings Otumoetai College
Esther Kozyniak St Catherine's College
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