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Mokoka mops up at SA’s

Stephen Mokoka blitzed his way to the senior men’s 12-kilometre title at the SA Cross Country Championships at the Tshwane University of Technology campus on Saturday.

The championships were presented by the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund and Mokoka, a third year sports management student at the Tshwane University of Technology, completed the three-lap course in 37min 32sec, with Kgosi Tsosane (38:03) and Xolisa Tyali (38:09) placing second and third respectively.

By the start of the second lap, eight competitors had positioned themselves upfront, but Mokoka timed his break superbly on the final lap to take the honours.

ÔÇ£The two hills on the back section of the race route really made things tough out there but I am glad to get the win,ÔÇØ said Mokoka, who won the national 10km championship title in Paarl last month.

ÔÇ£But SA athletics is definitely in on the up. In days gone by SA athletes would clock 28.40 for a 10km road race, but nowadays a winning time among the top guys is 28.10 which is an indication of the raise in standard in the sport.ÔÇØ

Malawian Mirriam Thole broke away from Central Gauteng’s Lebogang Phalula with 2km of the senior women’s 8km race remaining, and crossed the finish line in 29:05.

Phalula finished second in 29:39 with her twin sister Lebogang Phalula third in 30:01.

ÔÇ£The hills on the race route are really challenging and I am pleased to have put in a winning performance,ÔÇØ said 20-year-old Thiole, who hails from Mzuzu in Malawi.

In being crowned SA senior women’s champion, Lebo Phalula said: ÔÇ£I was hoping for a top five or six placing as I have been focusing on track racing during my stay in Spain, so I am happy with my race.ÔÇØ

The senior men’s 4km race went to middle distance track ace Juan van Deventer of Central Gauteng, who won in 12min 04sec from Gauteng North’s Dean Brummer (12:14) while in the women’s short race it was another track ace, Mapaseka Makhanya who took honours. She won in 14:56 to post a 44-sec victory margin over Central Gauteng team-mate Mandi Brandt.