Lebogang Shange pulled off perhaps one of the best wins of his race walking career this week, when he won the Around Taihu International 20km race in China.
With the race being an IAAF gold status event, Shange improved his standings in the IAAF Race Walking Challenge Series to joint third. Before this race, he was ranked eighth.
‘Totally over the moon,’ is how a happy Shange described his victory.
‘This has been a year with many disappointments, but it does not matter anymore as I’m ending my season smiling and knowing I’m on track to being at my best at next year’s World Championships in Doha. I’ve got to thank my coach, Sandor Rácz, for the way he kept on believing in my abilities and always having a plan to ensure that I become a more efficient race walker,’ Shange said.
Shange’s winning time was 1hr 23min 20sec, while Colombia’s Eider Arevalo was a close second in 1:23:23 and Isaac Palma (Mexico) was third in 1:23:54. Wayne Snyman who is also an HPC-based athlete finished seventh in a time of 1:25:26, which is the best result of his career.
The Around Taihu multi-day event, saw Shange finish second in the first day’s 12km race and third in the final day’s race, which was over 12km. With those results, Shange finished second overall for the second consecutive year and was also part of a winning team.
According to Shange, the third day’s racing was a real test of character.
‘I really suffered over the first six kilometres. I just couldn’t get my legs going. But I was never going to give up without a fight. Luckily over the last few kilometres, I got stronger and stronger. Eventually, I ended up being in quite a battle with the race leaders. I think in the end we were only separated by seven or few seconds,’ said Shange.
Another highlight for Shange was winning the Memorial Jerzy Hausleber 20km race walk in Mexico in February, which is also part of the IAAF Race Walking Challenge Series.