Mokoka in plea for ASA to step up to the plate
South African middle-distance specialist Stephen Mokoka has made a humble plea to Athletics SA (ASA) to get more involved in helping develop middledistance athletes in the country.
Mokoka believes that ASA should play a bigger role than it currently does so that the pool of athletes can be increased in this discipline – or it risks not having representation in this section in future world events.
Speaking after he registered his season best of 28:14.67, placing 20th in the men’s 10 000m at the IAAF World Championships at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park on Friday night, Mokoka said he hoped for more intervention from ASA.
The athlete said it was hard for him to get more races this year, and he was also quick to admit that he didn’t have the best of seasons by his standards.
The Tshwane University of Technology-based athlete is hoping to get more track events so that he can be properly equipped for a better performance in a race of this calibre. But on top of his wish list is to see more middle-distance South African runners, such as Gladwin Mzazi, Elroy Gelant and others, join him on the track.
“It’s tough, but we need to work harder as a team and as South Africans. You saw that Kenya had a couple of athletes in the race. If I can have a group of runners like Gelant and Mzazi coming down with me, it could be better because we can pace ourselves properly. If we work together as a team, I think that we can do better,” he said.
But for his wish to be granted, ASA must step in to speed up the process.
Mokoka said: “The only thing that we need for middle-distance running to work is more investment. We need more support and if we can get it we can do well. The most important thing is financial support. We suffer a lot to prepare for a race like this. I sacrificed a lot of things and I didn’t do any track meetings or cross country because I had to focus on coming here, as it was important. ASA must also send more guys here to develop. It helps runners to get confidence and to compete at the high level – that’s my humble plea to ASA.”
Speaking about his future plans, Mokoka said: “I will do the marathon at the Commonwealth Games in Australia next year if things don’t improve in the
10 000m. It also depends on the shape I will be in during October and December. But the 10 000m needs help as we are in danger of not having athletes who specialise in these events in the future.”
The Commonwealth Games will be held in April and, as most South African athletes usually start their season early, that could work in their favour.
“We are used to an early season and that will work to our advantage. If I can get another track race, I can improve and that will be good for us as South Africans.”
Mokoka added that it was an honour to feature in Mo Farah’s last race before his retirement.
Farah won the title with 26:49.51, while Uganda’s Joshua Kiprui took second (26:49.94) and Kenya’s Paul Tanui settled for bronze in 26:50.60.
Mokoka praised Farah, saying: “He is the greatest of all time. That one is a machine and it was a privilege to be on the same track with him.”
PLEASE HELP Stephen Mokoka has appealed to Athletics SA to get more involved