By Mark Etheridge
Lebogang Phalula not only won the South African cross-country championships in Mossel Bay at the weekend, she was also hoping to win the confidence of the national athletics fraternity.
Phalula took the senior women’s title, raced over eight tough kilometres, in a time of 27min 39.9sec, beating her twin sister Lebo Dina by 16sec and the two were the only runners under the 28min mark and more than a minute’s lead over third-placed Lorraine Novela, like the Phalulas, also of Central Gauteng.
‘My race was lovely, I enjoyed it to the fullest,’ she told Road to Rio 2016 on Thursday. ‘This was my first ASA title since the ban for stimulants and after my pregnancy.
‘I really wanted to tell the world and the provinces that I made a stupid mistake by believing and trusting a guy who was a coach and like a father to me. So I wanted to make a good and strong comeback by winning all the cross-country events.
‘The actual race was on a very hard and hilly course but I also enjoyed it lots.’
Thirty-year-old Phalula, (pictured running a recent road race with her sister, right) served a three-month ban after testing positive for banned stimulant methylhexaneamine in 2011.
But the birth of her young son Phila (now 19 months old) and the recent success both on the road and off will give her renewed confidence.
‘My next race will be the 10km in Cape Town on Sunday and then I’m also running a 10km in Utrecht, Netherlands at the end of the month.’
Picture: Reg Caldecott