Runner returns to USA to race, study

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Taonga Mbambo has returned to his studies in the USA.

Taonga Mbambo is making good strides with his studies and running and has just returned to start his second year at university in the USA.

The former Ashburton College student, a talented middle and long distance runner, won an athletics and academic scholarship to La Salle University in Philadelphia last year.

His first year of studies was cut short by the coronavirus outbreak and he returned home in March to complete them online.

Taonga’s academic performance and running prowess have both been noted by college officials and he has returned to America with a spring in his stride.

“I feel good about going back and getting into my studies and running.”

He said he was young, fit and healthy and not unduly bothered by the Covid-19 situation.

His sophomore (second year) would feature a mix of online and in-person lectures, but there would be no competitive running for a few more months.

“Sporting competitions will be reassessed in September, so I’ll have to see what happens then.”

Taonga, 19, is studying for a four-year business management degree and is both a track and cross country runner.

Since returning home in March he has been staying fit and pounding the streets of Ashburton to build up his distance work.

“I’ve been running around 70 miles (112km) a week and I’m feeling good.”

Taonga said he suffered a stress fracture last October, but had recovered well after some good treatment and was back running within six weeks.

Part-time work in Ashburton over the last few weeks has helped fund some new running footwear, and half a dozen pairs were crammed into his suitcase ahead of his departure earlier this week.