Mokoka in plea for ASA to step up to the plate

CityPress - - Sport - CHARLES BALOYI in Lon­don sports@city­press.co.za

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.”

PHOTO: ROGER SEDRES / GALLO IMAGES

PLEASE HELP Stephen Mokoka has ap­pealed to Ath­let­ics SA to get more in­volved

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