South Africa: Stephen Mokoka successfully defended his title, and Cornelia Joubert secured gold in the women’s race at the 2017 ASA Half-Marathon Championships held at the Nelson Mandela Bay in Port Elizabeth on Saturday 24 June.
Mokoka, representing Gauteng North, outclassed a quality line-up in the men’s contest, covering the 21.1km distance in 1:01:21, with versatile track specialist Elroy Gelant (Central North West) earning second place in a close 1:01:30.
Precious Mashele finished third in the open race in 1:01:56. He was competing as an individual and was ineligible for championship medals, with bronze going to local Eastern Province star Melikhaya Frans, who finished fourth overall in 1:01:58.
Mashele and Frans both dipped under 1:02:00 for the first time in their careers.
“This year started very rough for me (due to injury), and this shows I’m getting better day by day,” Mokoka said. “I ran a 61, and I didn’t expect that, so I’m very happy with the performance.
“The pace was good and I didn’t want to race too hard, (I’m) taking it easy in my build ups so that I don’t risk another injury at this time of the year.”
Gelant, who came second said it was a good race and he had aimed for a win on this one, but nevertheless congratulated the winner.
“The conditions were perfect to go for a good time and while we were running I actually said to Stephen lets go for 2,55 per km which would give us a 60/61 pace and that’s what we did.
“The conditions were there to run fast times. From now on I’m starting to pick up myself again. I’m quite strong now and looking to Europe to work towards the World Champs, so I’m going back to the track now probably starting with a 10 000m
In the women’s division, Joubert was promoted to first place overall after Ethiopian athletes Genet Abdurkadi (1:11:45) and Elisabeth Arsedo (1:12:20) were disqualified for race number violations.
Joubert crossed the line in 1:12:31, while compatriot Mapaseka Makhanya earned the silver medal in 1:12:43, improving the Personal Best of 1:14:06 she clocked to bag bronze at last year’s race.
Diana-Lebo Phalula, who was sixth overall, took third place in the national championships in 1:14:25 to wrap up a Central Gauteng clean sweep of the podium.
“The conditions were perfect,” Joubert said. “The last two years we raced here the weather was not nice, but today it was beautiful.
“The supporters were also amazing, which gave me the power to go on.”