Three-time Comrades Marathon winner Bongmusa Mthembu finished third. Photo: @iRunFar on twitter

JOHANNESBURG – Athletics SA (ASA) congratulated the SA team for their top performance in the 100km World Championships in Sveti, Croatia, over the weekend.

The athletes, led by Nick Bester as team coach and George Lamb as team manager, brought back three medals which included a silver for the men and women teams’ respectively, plus a bronze in the individual men’s category from three-time Comrades Marathon winner Bongmusa Mthembu.

ASA acting president James Moloi said he was pleased with the efforts of the SA team.

“We gave a mandate to the team when they left for the championships and they lived up to it and toughened up against other nations to bring back medals,” said Moloi.

“We are going to look at how best to prepare going forward, perhaps even give the team a year of preparation. We will listen to athletes and the team to learn from this experience.”

Bester said: “We are really proud of this team. They went there and fought even when some of the athletes fell sick. They just kept going. 

“High praise to ASA for the absolute support that they accorded us in order for us to perform the way we did. I’m also so happy with the spirit in the whole team including management. It was impressive that we entered a women’s team for the first and they got a medal.”

Salome Cooper, the women’s captain who finished in seventh position in 7:51:13, said: “We really enjoyed ourselves in that race and it’s really all thanks to ASA for their confidence in us to make this possible.

“We ran together as a team for at least 60km which caught the admiration of most including the commentators. When the going got tough the biggest psychological challenge was to keep running past the hotel. 

Bongmusa Mthembu in action on Polly Shorts during the 2017 Comrades Marathon. Photo: BackpagePix
Bongmusa Mthembu in action on Polly Shorts during the 2017 Comrades Marathon. Photo: BackpagePix

I came across Bongmusa struggling along the way and I told him ‘heroes don’t quit’ and a few minutes later he came flying past me.”

Mthembu, who led the race with a little more than 10km remaining, eventually held on for a third place finish in 6:33:47.

“I want to thank my teammates in the men and women competition, because we all ran as South Africans. We ran for each other and for the country that we were representing. 

What we achieved in Croatia is proof enough that we have the potential to dominate this competition in future with the continued support of the national federation.” 

African News Agency (ANA)


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