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Shange takes second in last race Down Under

Shange

In a near repeat of last year it Australia’s Dane Bird-Smith and South Africa’s Lebogang Shange (HPC) took top honours at the weekend’s Oceania Race 20km Race Walk Championship in Adelaide.

The bronze medallist at last year’s Olympic Games in Rio, Bird-Smith, won in a time of 1hr 19min 37sec with Shange second in 1:21:00 and Quentin Rew (New Zealand) third in 1:21:12. Another South African, Wayne Snyman (HPC) finished sixth in a time of 1:21:26.

The Australian also won last year with Shange taking second.

Shange had mixed feelings after this year’s race. In light of the fact that he has been diagnosed with an iron deficiency while at a training camp, he considers his second place finish as not too bad after being told by the Australian medical team who treated him not to get his hopes up for a good result.

The HPC athlete said it was a matter of pride that led to him pushing himself deep into the red. ‘There’s no way that I could train in Australia for two months and then come back to South Africa empty-handed. The fact that I doubted my own physical abilities led to me starting the race quite conservatively. Once I realised I was actually feeling OK I started to up my pace which led to me catching and passing the early race leaders.’

His disappointment stems from the fact that according to the official qualification standards set by the IAAF he would have qualified for this year’s World Championships in London but according to qualification standards set by Athletics South Africa he has not done so.

The South African qualification standard is 1:20:30 while the IAAF’s standard is 1:24:00. According to IAAF qualification standards Snyman has also qualified to represent South Africa in London.

Last year Shange set a new South African record when he raced to a time of 1:20:06.

‘It would have been nice to have had the qualification for the World Championships out of the way so that I can just focus on becoming stronger and faster as I’m driven by a hunger to make South Africans proud every time I race. Instead my coach, Chris Britz, and I will now have to identify another race to try and qualify.

‘To meet the ASA standard is going to be quite a challenge as I would have to walk near SA record pace to do so. In most international races a time of 1:20:30 will be good enough for a podium finish.

“The good thing is that at least I now know what has been ailing me so it will be easier for HPC to help me. Suffering from iron deficiency meant that I battled when I trained because I was constantly fatigued. It got a bit frustrating.’


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