Home favourite Melikhaya Frans put up a spectacular fight on Saturday to win gold in the men’s race at the 2022 ASA Half-Marathon Championships which was incorporated into the Nelson Bay Half-Marathon in Gqeberha, while Glenrose Xaba held on to successfully defend her national women’s title.
Namakoe Nkhasi of Lesotho won the open men’s race in 1:01:01, but Frans did well to grab second place overall to secure the national 21.1km title, setting an Eastern Province Athletics provincial record of 1:01:03.
“I had a lot of people around the course shouting my name and I’m very happy to have won the SA title at home.
“I’m excited because I think this will change my status. I’m also very pleased with my personal best time and to have broken the provincial record,” said Frans.
In the women’s race, Ethiopian athlete Ftaw Bezabh won the open race in a lightning fast 1:06:57.
And while the foreign contingent pushed the pace up front, Xaba managed to finish seventh in 1:10:41, but winning gold in the ASA Half-Marathon Championships as the first South African.
Irvette van Zyl earned silver in the national championship race in 1:11:19, while Diana-Lebo Phalula secured bronze in 1:14:23.
“It was a tough for me today. After 15km I was feeling a bit weak and I’m just glad I was able to finish the race. I’m very happy to add another SA title to my name,” said Xaba after the race.
“Thanks to my coach Caster Semenya, my mentor Violet Raseboya, and my training group for helping me achieve my goal today.”
James Moloi, the president of Athletics South Africa, was pleased with the hosting of another successful national championship as the country’s elite prepare for the international season.
“I want to thank the organisers, Eastern Province Athletics and the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality, for allowing us to host this event alongside their race,” Moloi said.
“It was a well organised race and we are encouraged by the fast times because we are going to use this race to select the SA team to compete at the World Half-Marathon Championships (in Yangzhou in November) and it looks like we will be able to put a very strong team together.”