Lebogang Shange completed his African Athletics Championships medal collection in Asaba, Nigeria when he finished second in the 20km race walk.
The HPC Pretoria athlete now has a full set of medals having won a gold medal in 2014 in Marrakech, Morocco and bronze in Durban 2016.
Shange admitted that his performance in Asaba was not his best due to some health issues, but he is happy to have prevailed and to have won silver.
‘What’s important is that I had fun during the race. The race actually turned out to be an exciting affair. Over the last few kilometres, I was involved in a titanic battle with Samuel Gathimba from Kenya and Hassanine Sebei from Tunisia where we really tested each other.
‘Unfortunately, when Gathimba put in that last acceleration I wasn’t able to stay with him and he deservedly won,’ Shange said.
The three athletes were only separated by 26 seconds in the end, Gathimba won with a time of 1hr 25min 13sec with Shange second in 1:25:24 and Sebei third in 1:25:39.
This season is turning out to be one of definite highlights and disappointments for Shange. In February, he won the Memorial Jerzy Hausleber 20km race walk in Mexico and looked to be a definite medal contender at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.
Unfortunately, Shange was diagnosed with an iron deficiency before the Games and this impacted his stamina. True to his nature Shange said that he wasn’t going to let it get to him, but in spite of a valiant effort, he faded severely during the latter stages of the Games race.
It was only true grit and determination that enabled him to still finish ninth, nearly four minutes behind the winner, Dane Bird-Smith from Australia.
Still, listless Shange competed at the IAAF World Race Walking Championships in Taicang, China where he tried to make a race of it, but again it was in vain and he only finished 15th.
But he bounced back and in July he finished second in a 3,000km race walk during the London Diamond League Meeting, where he set a new African record, finishing in 10:47.08.
Although Shange plans to race in Switzerland next, his actual goal is to peak during the IAAF Multi-day-event named Around Taihu in China, which is the last of the Race Walk Challenge events.
Last year the HPC-athlete set a new South African record over 10km winning in 39:48 during the competition and ended up finishing second overall.
Photo: Shange at African Championships, supplied