All to run for at South African cross-coun­try tri­als in Potchef­stroom

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - SPORT - MARK ETHERIDGE

MANY of the coun­try’s top ath­letes will be in action at the South African cross-coun­try tri­als in Potchef­stroom to­day.

The event has at­tracted the cream of mid­dle-dis­tance run­ners and prom­ises spec­ta­tors a bat­tle that will hope­fully bring back mem­o­ries of the golden era of South African ath­let­ics.

The men’s 12km con­test is billed as a thrilling en­counter be­tween twice na­tional cham­pion, Boy Soke, cur­rent na­tional cham­pion Sibu­siso Nz­ima and three-time run­nerup at the na­tional cham­pi­onships, Steven Mokoka.

Soke had a dis­ap­point­ing run at the na­tional cham­pi­onships late last year when he col­lapsed from heat ex­haus­tion 8km into the race af­ter mak­ing most of the early pac­ing du­ties. This pro­vided an op­por­tu­nity for Steven Mokoka (at that stage twice run­ner-up be­hind Soke in as many years) to take the win, but danger­ous out- sider Nz­ima had plans of his own and out­sprinted Mokoka to the tape.

Both Nz­ima and Mokoka are in­cluded in the pre­lim­i­nary na­tional cross-coun­try squad, but Soke is ea­ger to state his claim for a po­si­tion in the six­man team that will rep­re­sent South Africa at the South­ern re­gion cham­pi­onships in the Sey­chelles and then at the world cham­pi­onships in Poland in March.

Nz­ima and Mokoka are not the only ob­sta­cles Soke has to con­tend with to­day. The event boasts an en­try list con­tain­ing one of the finest se­lec­tion of ath­letes seen at a do­mes­tic cross-coun­try event, in­clud­ing: Jef­frey Gwebu (CGA), Kgosi Tsosane (AFS), Xolisa Tyali (CGA), Lungisa Md­edelwa (ATRA), Sa­muel Se­goaba (AFS), Lucky Miya (CGA), Cool­boy Ng­amole (CGA), Nlosi­nox­olo Son­qibido (Transnet), David Se­betlele (Transnet), Nkululeko Zamisa, (Tuks), Mandla Maseko (Transnet), Bennedict Mo­eng (Transnet), Alexan­der Mo­tone (Transnet) and Tshamano Se­tone (Ned­bank).

The event is also at­tract­ing in­ter na­tional at­ten­tion and ath­letes from Scot­land, Poland and France have en­tered as part of their prepa­ra­tion for the world cham­pi­onships.

A dra­matic bat­tle is ex­pected in the women’s 8km. Af­ter fin­ish­ing in ninth po­si­tion at the SA cross-coun­try cham­pi­onships, Lebo Phalula knows that she will need to fight hard to join her twin sis­ter, Lebogang, who was ranked sec­ond in the na­tional squad.

The SA team would like to draw on the ex­pe­ri­ence of the Phalula twins, who had a suc- cess­ful tour on the Euro­pean cross-coun­try cir­cuit. Many top-seeded con­tenders will, how­ever, like to see their names among the fi­nal six.

Chris­tine Kalmer, younger sis­ter of es­tab­lished star Rene, is back to com­pete in South Africa af­ter com­plet­ing her stud­ies in the US, and de­fend­ing cham­pion Te­bogo Masetla is in top form. An­ner­ien van Schalk­wyk would also like to stamp her au­thor­ity on the team af­ter her dream sea­son last year.

The en­try list for this race is also a strong one and in­cludes: Glo­ria Baeba (Transnet), Ronel Thomas (Bashewa), Mir­riam Mooki (AGN), Zin­tle Sinqe (Tuks), Gla­dys Lukhwareni (Transnet), Charne Bos­man (Mr Price) and Cather­ine Skosana (Transnet).

The event will be run at the Fanie du Toit Sport ter­rain of the North-West Uni­ver­sity and also serves as the tri­als for the na­tional stu­dents’ cross-coun­try team to Canada later this year.

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