Nkoka guns for Olympic glory

Lesotho Times - - Sport - Mikia Kalati

MARATHON ace Lebenya Nkoka is look­ing for a barn­storm­ing de­but at this year’s Olympic Games.

The 33-year-old says he wants to run his way into the his­tory books by be­com­ing the first lo­cal ath­lete to win a medal at the mul­ti­sport show­case set for Brazil in Au­gust.

Nkoka is among five ath­letes who have booked their places at the Games along­side sprinter Mos­ito Le­hata, marathoner Tšepo Mathi­belle and box­ers Inku­l­uleko Sun­tele and Moroke Mokhotho.

Af­ter win­ning the star-stud­ded Two Oceans Marathon in Cape Town two years ago, Nkoka be­lieves if he as­sumes the same win­ning men­tal­ity, he would reign supreme in Brazil.

“I never thought I would one day count win­ning the Two Oceans marathon among my suc­cesses, but I did it in 2014, beat­ing some of the re­gion’s top runners in the process,” Nkoka said.

“It was not easy, but I be­lieved in my abil­ity. I had come close pre­vi­ously but even­tu­ally won it when I was about to give up that dream.

“I will carry the same spirit to Brazil and hope­fully, it will work won­ders for me.

“I know it will be a com­pletely dif­fer­ent setup to the races I am used to in South Africa, but I’m work­ing hard to make a name for my­self on this big­ger stage.”

Nkoka, who also won the High Al­ti­tude Sum­mer Marathon in 2014, also said it would be an hon­our for him to rep­re­sent his coun­try at such a big sport­ing event.

“I have been hard at work be­cause I’m look­ing for­ward to rep­re­sent­ing the coun­try at such a big sport­ing event which is a dream for any ath­lete.

“I would have loved to run in one or two com­pe­ti­tions abroad be­fore the Olympics, but I think it might be a bit late for that now.

“But like I said, I have come up against top runners in South African races so I know what to ex­pect in Brazil.

“I still have a few com­pe­ti­tions com­ing up in South Africa but they will be half-marathons to keep me in shape as I don’t need to overdo things and risk get­ting in­jured,” he said.

The last time Nkoka rep­re­sented the coun­try at a ma­jor sport­ing com­pe­ti­tion was the Com­mon­wealth Games of 2006, where he how­ever failed to win any medal.

“I now know bet­ter about plan­ning for a race which is why I am con­fi­dent of do­ing well in Brazil,” Nkoka said.

Marathon ace Lebenya nkoka.

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