SA half marathon royals Mokoka and Xaba shine in Argentina
JOHANNESBURG – Stephen Mokoka and Glenrose Xaba will today land back in the country from Buenos Aires, Argentina with their South African half marathon king and queen crowns firmly on their heads.
The duo won the ASA 21.1km Championships in Port Elizabeth last month and at the weekend had splendid, record-breaking runs in the Argentinian capital.
Mokoka, who is also a multiple South African Marathon champion, finished fourth in the Buenos Aires Half Marathon in 59:51 to smash Hendrik Ramaala’s long-standing record of 60.07.
Ever the humble and driven athlete he is though, the man from Mafikeng in the North West was praising his competitors instead of jumping for joy at his feat.
“Tough race and good experience,” he said via WhatsApp “The guys out here do not have mercy, they run hard. If I wish to make it, I have to train harder.”
Make it? So says the man who has realised the kind of achievements most runners can only dream about. He has all three medals from the Summer Universidae (world student games), has ran at multiple World Championships plus the Olympics and won numerous marathons locally and internationally. All these on the back of a running career that started on the track where success was a synonym to his name.
Yet such is his drive that Mokoka was not too chuffed with finishing fourth.
Ramaala, who held the record for 22 years, was delighted and felt the new mark could not have gone to a more deserving athlete.
“When records are broken, it shows that we are progressing and Stephen has been working very hard. I have actually been thinking he would break it since 2012. He has been very focused and was never tempted to go into the ultras or for the quick money like others.
I am very happy for him and I know he has now opened the floodgates that will see the likes of Elroy Gelant and Prince Mashele going for a sub 60 in the half marathon now.”
Xaba, meanwhile, continued to astound with yet another historic half marathon run.
The race in Buenos Aires was only her second at the distance but she handled it like a seasoned pro, her 69:44 making her the first ever black South African female to dip under the 70 minutes mark.
That time put her into third place on the South African all-time list.@Tshiliboy