JOHANNESBURG – Six seconds. It’s too short a time, right? To an athlete, however, that can seem like an eternity.
Desmond Mokgobu missed the title of South African Half Marathon champion by that much last year. And no, Mokgobu did not finish as a runner-up at the national championships. The former Olympic marathoner came in a distant sixth place behind winner Stephen Mokoka.
While he is returning to Port Elizabeth this weekend eager to cut way over six seconds from the 61 minutes 50 seconds that he ran in 2018, Mokgobu is realistic enough to know that an improvement will not automatically equate to the title.
“I’ll be very happy if I made the top 10 again,” Mokgobu said yesterday. “I want to go the world champs next year and I think ASA (Athletics South Africa) will probably select five or six athletes at the weekend. So my aim is to try and dip under 61 minutes.”
Mokgobu is a 42.2km specialist and will be in the national team that will represent the country at the global championships in Doha later this year (September to October).
He would love nothing more than to also make it into Team South Africa in the distance he is slowly beginning to like.
“I am looking to use the half marathon as my base for the marathon and competing against these very fast guys is helping me big time. My training partner Precious Mashele is a half marathon specialist and I am learning a lot from him.”
Just like last year when the first seven runners dipped under 62 minutes in a very fast race, Mokgobu anticipates Saturday’s race to be ran at lightning pace.
“There is very tight competition in the half marathon here at home. There are a lot of very fast runners and the good thing is that at races such as the national championships, we really push each other. And I hope it will be the same this weekend. I believe that if we can get to the halfway mark in about 29 minutes then we will run very good times.”
Though he is going to the Windy City in competitive mode, Mokgobu has not started his season.
“My season will only start proper towards the end of August to March next year; that is why I have not been racing. I have just been training and I am very happy with how things have gone. I feel like I am getting ready to compete and the championships this weekend will provide me with a good base.
If I get a good time it will give me confidence not only for the championships in Doha but for my other races overseas too.”@Tshiliboy