Wins for Kgosi, Lebogang

Kgosi Tsosane and Lebogang Phalula won Saturday’s South African cross country trials at the University Sports Grounds in Potchefstroom in hot and humid conditions. Raced over laps of two... Read more

Kgosi Tsosane and Lebogang Phalula won Saturday’s South African cross country trials at the University Sports Grounds in Potchefstroom in hot and humid conditions.

Raced over laps of two kilometres, Manfred Seidler writes that the inclement weather these past few weeks initially played havoc with the design of the course. Thankfully though it cleared and the route was laid out as desired by the federation and the organisers.

ÔÇ£We wanted a 2km lap in line with the IAAF’s recommendations to make it viewer-friendly and were a bit worried with the weather initially. It is also a flat route with a few man made hills. The mud around the hills would have made it a bit difficult for the athletes,ÔÇØ said organiser and former SA cross-country champion Jean Verster.

The men’s 12 km was first underway with SA champion Steven Mokoka the hot favourite. Mokoka was in the thick of things on the first lap, pulling a group of around 10 athletes through in just over six┬á minutes. Amongst those on his shoulder were Lungiswa Mdedelwa, Kgosi Tsosane, Boy Soke, Tshamano Setone ÔÇô the SA 5000m Champion, Ruben Ramolefi (SA 3000m steeplechase champion) Xolisa Tyali.

At the halfway mark Mokoka was again testing the athletes and the leading 10 started to open a substantial gap over the pack. With one lap to go, Ramolefi and Setone had started to fall back, with Mokoka and Tsosane looking the most ominous.

It came down to those two in the end, with Mokoka not challenging the 24-year-old Tsosane for line honours.

ÔÇ£Steven and I started to push harder after 8km to get a gap and gradually increased our pace. I was fourh here last year, so I was pleased with my performance today,ÔÇØ said the Kroonstad athlete who trains without the assistance of a coach.

Hot favourites in the women’s 8km race were the Phalula twins Lebo and Lebogang and they took the pace out fast from the gun. By the end of the first 2km the twins had a 15sec advantage over Rene Kalmer, Annerien Van Schalkwyk, Tebogo Masehla and Mapaseka Makhanya (Ms January in the recently launched ASA Calender).

The Phalula twins’ competition form was clearly in evidence as they powered away from the rest of the field. In fact the two had had a fairly successful European Cross Country Season leading up to Saturday’s trials. Lebo winning in Soria, Spain.

Van Schalkwyk’s marathon strength started to show in the final lap as she chased down Lebo Phalula who showed signs of fatigue. Van Schalkwyk had run a 2:35 marathon in Singapore in December 2010 to finish 3rd. Clearly the training done for the marathon paid dividends as Van Schalkwyk matched Lebogang Phalula stride for stride in the final 300m, only the track speed of Phalula making the difference as she out dipped Van Schalkwyk for the win.

Boland’s William Kaptein who led from start to finish dominated the junior men’s 8km race and Leatitia Saayman had too much for Caroline Marandela in the final 500m to comfortably win the junior women’s race.

Athletics South Africa will be announcing the teams for the African Cross Country Championship (6 March, Cape Town) and World Cross Country Championships (19 March, Punta Umbria, Spain) during the course of the week.

Senior Men                           12km

1.          Kgosi Tsotsane                                    37:57
2.          Steven Mokoka                                    37:58
3.          Lungiswa Mdedlewa                              38:02
4.          Boy Soke                                             38:06
5.          Xolisa Tyali                                           38:29

Senior Women                  6km
1.         Lebogang Phalula                                  29:59
2.         Annarien Van Schalkwyk                        30:00
3.         Lebo Phalula                                         30:04
4.         Mapaseka Makhanya                              30:12
5.         Tebogo Masehla                                     30:44

Junior Men                           8km
1.         William Kaptein                                    26:05
2.         Merline Klaaste                                    26:28
3.         Jermoy Andreas                                    26:29
4.         Luyanda Qolol                                      26:35
5.         Luxolo Mdzanga                                    26:45

Junior Women                  6km
1.         Letitia Saayman                                    23:28
2.         Caroline Marandela                                23:35
3.         Thato Makhafola                                    23:40
4.         Sylvia Tshetlanyane                               23:50
5.         Thandeka Manzana                                24:03

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