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Mokoka spearheads team

South Africa’s 10 000m and cross-country champion Steven Mokoka and the Phalula twins (Lebogang and Lebo) spearhead the South African contingent for both the African Cross-country Championships in Cape Town on 6 March and the World Championships in Spain on 20 March.

Mokoka comfortably won the SA title in September in 2010 and was runner up behind behind Kgosi Tsosane at the recent trials held in Potchefstroom. The result was in fact a position reversal of the SA Champs.

Manfred Seidler writes that Lebogang Phalula and Annerien van Schalkwyk had tight battles at both the championships and the trials and will be the pick of the women’s team; in fact the women’s team will look to them to challenge in the team category.

Both Mokoka and the Phalula girls will be racing in the 1500m in the second Yellow Pages Meeting of the Series in Pretoria on Friday. Mokoka is in sublime form after winning the Best Med 10km (29:32) road race in Pretoria on Saturday morning on the 19 February, then drove through to Potchefstroom to compete in the men’s 3000m that afternoon which he duly won in a time of 7:55.92.

In 2010 the eight-minute mark was only beaten four times by a South African in 2010; all of those times were posted in Europe. Mokoka did it in February in South Africa at altitude and he is fast becoming the man who will take over the mantle of South Africa’s premier middle distance athlete over distances ranging from the 1500m to 10 000m on the track. With his 61:26 half-marathon time and 2:08:33 marathon time, Mokoka is a class athlete on any surface.

The Phalula twins are also clearly in shape for the first ever Africa Cross Country event to be held in South Africa, particularly Lebogang. The sisters competed in the European Cross Country season in December last year and Janaury this year with Lebogang finishing runner up in Fuensalida, Spain behind Kenya’s Eunice Jepkorir.

Her win at the trials showed she was the form athlete and her 3000m victory last week at the Potchefstroom leg of the Yellow Pages series is good preparation for the Africa Cross-country Championships. She and her sister, like Mokoka, will be racing the 1500m in Pretoria on Friday as final preparation for the Cross-country Championships.

The SA team for African and World Championships
Senior men:
Kgosi Tsosane, Steven Mokoka, Lungiswa Mdedelwa, Boy Soke, Xolisa Tyali, Tshamano Setone
Senior women: Lebogang Phalula, Annerien van Schalkwyk, Lebo Phalula, Mapaseka Makhanya, Teboho Masehla, Rene Kalmer
Junior men: William Kaptain, Merline Klaaste, Jeromy Andreas, Luyanda Qolo, Luxolo Mdzanga, Edwin Sesipi
Junior Women: Letitia Snyman, Caroline Marandela, Thato Makhafola, Sylvia Tshetlanyane, Thandeka Manzana, Konzeni Gwegwe


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