All eyes are on South Africa’s new 10k champion, Tayla Kavanagh, as she aims to build on her early senior athletics career success and be the best version of herself.
At the inaugural ABSA Durban 10k City Run, Kavanagh’s pace set her apart from the more experienced athletes, which has seen her accomplish a breakthrough in her career.
With 75 runners competing in the women’s elite race, the 20-year-old is still trying to fathom her achievement, revealing that the race was a great opportunity for her to continue pushing the boundaries and better her performances.
The KwaZulu-Natal athlete says staying focussed during an uncertain period as the Covid-19 pandemic lingers on has been her biggest challenge, however she is grateful to have kept to her promise of never giving up.
Her determination to keep forging ahead sets expectations for more success to come, however the young star has her eyes set on taking her career one step at a time.
Speaking with Celine Abrahams, Kavanagh shares details of the ABSA Durban 10k City Run and advice to fellow young athletes aiming for success.
It’s a pleasure speaking with you, Tayla! When you hear the public and media refer to you as the current SA 10k champion, what goes through your mind?
I am incredibly happy to win my first senior national title and I’m still trying to take it all in!
Please tell us about the ABSA Durban 10k City Run, setting a PB and competing against the best female runners in the country.
The ABSA Durban 10k City Run was a very professional, well organised event and it was so wonderful to have a mass participation event again with spectators to support us along the route.
It is always a great opportunity to line up and race with the best female runners in the country, as it helps me to push myself further and better my performance.
What was going through your mind when you were in the lead and when you finally crossed the finish line in first place?
When I found myself in the front of the leading pack of ladies, it motivated me to focus on maintaining my pace and keep the finish line in mind. I was incredibly happy to cross the finish line first on Sunday (31 October 2021).
You are in your first year as a senior athlete. Did you ever imagine it would turn out in the way it is currently?
When I started this was a very uncertain year. I was unsure how the year was going to play out or even if we were going to be able to have races, but I’m so pleased with my performances in my first year as a senior athlete.
What has been the biggest shift when it comes to training and dealing with challenges mentally in your career in your senior year?
Staying focused in a very uncertain time has been a challenge but keeping my long-term goals in mind, while just concentrating on my training each week, has helped me to be ready when races opened.
What advice have you received that has impacted your career?
Never give up, just keep giving your best.
Apart from winning the ABSA Durban 10k City Run, what other highlights would you say shaped your career to date?
My first big success was winning the SA Junior Women 6km Cross Country Championships in 2019 and being selected for the SA Junior Cross-Country team in early 2020.
In the same year, placing second in the junior category in the Spar Ladies 10km Grand Prix Series. I also had a few successful races in the Spar Ladies Grand Prix Series this year, before running in the ABSA Durban 10k City Run.
Which women in sport inspire you and why?
I am inspired by the senior women road runners in SA and look forward to my own journey as I grow and learn in this sport.
What advice would you share with fellow young athletes who are aiming to achieve at the beginning of their careers?
Work hard, be consistent, committed and patient. Keep showing up and never give up. Most importantly, make sure you love what you do, it will make the journey that much more enjoyable.
What is your greatest ambition?
I would like to try being the best version of myself. I aim to continue pushing myself to better my times in various distances in both road running and cross country.
Photo 1 Caption: South Africa’s new 10k champion, Tayla Kavanagh’s pace at the inaugural ABSA Durban 10k City Run set her apart from her more experienced senior athletics competitors. Photo: Tayla Kavanagh (Instagram)