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SA pick strong team for World XC Championships

Despite the boardroom brouhaha, Athletics South Africa has announced a team of 16 athletes to compete at Sunday’s IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Poland, writes Mark Etheridge.

Four teams of four athletes each will South Africa on Thursday for the Polish city of Bydgoszcz, a venue that has previously been used for the global championships.

The cash-strapped national federations, which has for years now been mired in controversy, recently took a decision to impeach President James Evans, a move that is now seen to be possibly unconstitutional.

The men’s team will be spearheaded by SA track 3000m record holder Elroy Gelant, with the Athletics North West runner having being a previous competitor at the world cross country championships.

He’ll be backed up by fellow ACNW runner David Mana and Desmon Mokgobu (Central Gauteng Athletics) and Gladwin Mzazi (Athletics Gauteng North).

The women’s team will see veteran European campaigner Mapaseka Makhanya of CGA being accompanied by three CGA teammates in Nolene Conrad, Christine Kalmer and Lebo Phalula. Conrad set a personal best time of 34min 04sec at the Spar Women’s 10km Challenge at Green Point, Cape Town and will no doubt be buoyed by that display.

At the 2011 world champs in Punta Umbria, Spain, it was Stephen Mokoka (15th overall) who spearheaded the men’s team to fifth spot in the team competition. The senior women’s team were night, junior men sixth and junior women 10th.

The team will be managed by former SA cross country champion Jean Verster (ACNW) and Western Province’s Norma Nonkonyana.

Athletes accustomed to the current summer conditions in South Africa are going to be in for a shock come this weekend as 20 centimetres of snow fell on the Polish city on Tuesday and temperatures are consistently below zero degrees Celcius at this time of year. In fact, some weather forecasts are predicting a wind chill factor of -11 degrees Celcius on Sunday.

The full line-up of athletes is:

Senior Men
Elroy Gelant (ACNW)
David Manja (ACNW)
Desmond Mokgobu (CGA)
Gladwin Mzazi (AGN)

Senior Women
Nolene Conrad (CGA)
Christine Kalmer (CGA)
Mapaseka Makhanya (CGA)
Lebo Phalula (CGA)

Junior Men
Creel Chavalala (CGA)
Rantso Mekopane (ACNW)
Tumisang Monnatlala (CGA)
Thabang Nkuna (LIMA)

Junior Women
Annie Bothma (WPA)
Zandile Hadebe (CGA)
Thandeka Manzana (AGN)
Glenrose Xaba (AMPU)

Team Managers
Jean Verster (ACNW)
Norma Nonkonyana (WPA)


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