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