South Africa’s representatives excelled at the World Athletics Half Marathon Championships in Gdynia, Poland, with Stephen Mokoko finishing seventh in the men’s race and Glenrose Xaba placing 16th in the women’s event.
Both Leiba Mashele, who finished 14th, and Collen Mulaudzi (23rd) also achieved personal bests.
Mokoko set a South African record 59min 36sec, which was only 47 seconds behind the winner, Uganda’s Jacob Kiplomo. Pre-race favourite Joshua Cheptegei was fourth. The 19-year-old Kiplomo won Uganda’s first ever medal in his debut at the event, clocking a championship record of 58:49.
It was Kiplimo’s second major championship medal after taking the 2017 World Junior Cross Country title on home soil in Kampala.
Kenya’s Kikiwott Kandle finished second in 58:54 with Amdework Walalign third for Ethiopia in 59:08.
It is a day for record books in Poland. It is a day to rewrite them. The squad came with one purpose: TO RUN FAST! And one question: how fast could they go? Fast, really frkkn fast 🥵🥵🥵😂@tlotlomoko – 59:36 NR@collenmulaudzi1– 60:51 PB@XabaSuper– 69:26PB#SpongeGroup pic.twitter.com/FmXMrfkyx0
— Sponge Group (@MichaelSeme08) October 17, 2020
Mokoko had last year become the first South African to dip under the one-hour mark with a 59:51 in Beunos Aires, but took 15 seconds off that time in Poland. Mashele timed 1:00:24 to place 16th, while Mulaudzi was 23rd in 1:00:51.
The 25-year-old Xaba set a new personal best when she finished 16th in the women’s race in 1hr 9min 26sec. There were 101 finishers. Xaba’s splits were 16:01 for the 5km, 32:33 for 10km, 49:15 for 15km and 1:05:57 for 20km. She was in 16th position for most of the race.
The women’s race was won by Peres Jepchirchir, who broke her own world record, crossing the line in1hr 5min 16sec to win gold.
The 27-year-old Kenyan beat her previous best by 18 seconds, set in Prague on September 5, narrowly edging out Germany’s Melat Kejeta by just two seconds. Yalemzerf Yehualaw of Ethiopia was just a further second back to take bronze in an extraordinarily close race.