The SA 10km championships crowned two new champions in Middelburg at the weekend, as Precious Mashele won a closely contested men’s race, and Central Gauteng Athletics teammate Lebogang Phalula earned a convincing victory in the women’s race.
Lining up against a quality field, Mashele built on his impressive recent form, adding the national 10km road running title to the cross country crown he earned in Port Elizabeth three weeks ago.
He completed the race in 29min 43sec, taking a sprint finish ahead of Thabang Mosiako and Elroy Gelant – who came in as the defending champion.
Mosiako finished second in 29:46, while his Athletics Central North West teammate Gelant, who was aiming for his third straight national 10km title, was third in 29min 48sec.
‘It’s good to win any national championship and this is my goal, so I’m very happy to win here today,’ Mashele said. ‘Next year I want to dominate all disciplines by running track, cross country and road.’
Phalula dominated the women’s race, charging to victory in 35min 57sec.
Jenet Mbhele finished second in 36:18 and her KwaZulu-Natal Athletics teammate Thobile Mkhize secured the bronze medal, a further seven seconds off the pace.
‘I was so tired but I didn’t want to put that in my mind,’ Phalula said. ‘It’s been a long time since I won due to the injuries I had this year, but now I’m injury-free and I’m pleased with the win.
‘This year I told myself if I can win one title, I know next year will be easier, so this is not the end for me. Next season will be a new start.’
Meanwhile, 87-year-old Deirdre Larkin set an unofficial 10km world best of 1:03:42 in the 85-90 age division. However, her performance is unlikely to be considered by the SA Masters Athletics organisation, as she had chosen to enter the race in the 70-75 age group and did not meet the criteria for ratification.
‘Congratulations to the new national champions for their success and hard work,’ said Aleck Skhosana, the president of ASA. ‘We took note that the contest targeted good times, and we continue to encourage that in road running as that is the only way we can compete for podium positions when we challenge the rest of the world.’
PHOTO: Mashele in action at the ASA 10km champion supplied by Back Track Sports