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Tumelo Motlagale declared SA marathon champion in Durban

FILE - After an operation to an injured ankle kept him out of athletics for two years, Tumelo Motlagale was rewarded for his perseverance when he became South African marathon champion on Sunday. Photo: Tumelo Motlagale/Facebook

FILE - After an operation to an injured ankle kept him out of athletics for two years, Tumelo Motlagale was rewarded for his perseverance when he became South African marathon champion on Sunday. Photo: Tumelo Motlagale/Facebook

Published May 8, 2022

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Johannesburg — Tumelo Motlagale could have given up on his athletic career back in 2016 when an ankle injury force him to go for an operation that kept him out of the sport for a good two years

But thanks to the support and encouragement of his father and coach, Adam — himself a former athlete of some repute — Motlagale junior returned to the sport.

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And out in Durban on a gloomy and wet Sunday morning, the 35-year-old got just rewards for his perseverance when he became South African marathon champion.

Motlagale ran a splendid personal best of 2:11:15 at the Durban International City Marathon — which also doubled up as the Athletics South Africa National Marathon Championships — for a second place finish behind Zimbabwean Isaac Mpofu, who win in 2:10:24.

Mpofu was later disqualified from the race after failing to have his race number on the back of his shirt and Motlagale was then declared the official winner.

Motlagale's time was 15s faster than the mark required to book a spot at the IAAF World Championships and because of that, the former steeplechase specialist secured his place in TeamSA's marathon squad, for not only this year's Championships taking place in Oregon, US, in July; but next year's event in Budapest, Hungar as well.

"It feels very great to be a winner,“ he beamed at the finish line just outside the Moses Mabhida Stadium.

“Fantastic. I have been preparing for this event since January. It was my main goal, my mindset has been on the SA Marathon Championships since January.

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"If it was not for my father, who is also my coach, I would have struggled to get over that injury. But he was there with me throughout, giving me support and encouragement. And that's how I managed to come back and perform this way.“

And it was a performance worthy of winning a national championship alright.

On a morning perfect for marathon running with a slight drizzle early on ensuring cool conditions throughout, Motlagale ran the race of his life and at one stage looked on course for outright victory.

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Always with the leading group, he found himself in a three-way battle for honours for a significant part of the race. But he and Mpofu then broke away to engage in a mammoth tussle that Motlagale appeared to have won when he opened up a huge gap upon making the U-turn at the Virginia circle en route towards the finish..

That lead did not last long though, as Mpofu reeled him in and Motlagale had to be content with hanging on for second spot overall.

He realised his main objective though and that was all that mattered.

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Central Gauteng Athletics' Simon Pule Sibeko finished second in the SA Championships, with the host province's Bonginkosi Zwane — winner of the Durban International Marathon last year — taking the bronze medal.

In the women's race Kenya's Shelmith Nyawira Muriuki reigned supreme in a time of 2:37:54, a good two minutes and four seconds ahead Ethiopian Gete Guta Gelato.

Janet Mbhele of KwaZulu-Natal finished third overall but took the national title in a time of 2:43:07.

Athletics Gauteng North's Stella Marais finished in the silver medal position and third place went to Zinhle Shabalala of KZN.

@Tshiliboy

IOL Sport

Related Topics:

Athletics

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