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  • Writer's pictureCharles Baloyi

Family affair as Mzazi and wife Phalula record 5000m victories at CGA Track & Field

Athletics South Africa's (ASA) biggest critics, Gladwin Mzazi and his wife Lebo Phalula are happy to back on the track. The couple were vocal about ASA's suspension of races due to the second wave of Covid-19 pandemic last month. They criticized ASA boss Aleck Skhosana and his board for canceling the national cross country trials just four days before the event was set to take place on January 23. A furious Mzazi questioned the federation's reason for cancelling the event when athletes were struggling to survive.

But he and his wife completed the double at the Central Gauteng Athletics (CGA) meeting at the Boksburg Stadium at the weekend. The Boxer Running Club stars won the men's and women's 5 000m races. Mzazi stopped the clock in 14:32:98 to win the gold medal in the men's 5000m race while his wife Lebo took the ladies' race in 17:18:32 to complete a wonderful weekend for the couple. Mzazi said most of the athletes that took part at the CGA meet congratulate him for leading their fight with ASA to open the races.

Mzazi leads the pack during the men's 5000m at the CGA Track & Field Meet on Saturday. Photo Credit: MWMEDIA.

"Firstly, I would like to say that I have nothing against ASA. I did what any athlete would have done to call them into order. I still stick to my words that they are not doing enough for athletes but that is a story for another day. We are happy that races are open and that we can run again. The other runners see me as a celebrity because of what I did to push their struggle but I did that for me to run again. I am happy to be back and congratulations to CGA for organizing a beautiful meeting. Everything was professional and well organized. I think that ASA can learn a lot from CGA," said Mzazi.

"I want to qualify for the Olympic Games in the 5000m and 10 000m and I was using this race as part of my preparations for the SA senior champs in Pretoria in April," the Adidas sponsored runner Mzazi told #TheTopRunner. In two weeks, he will have an opportunity to race against the winner of the first CGA track meeting Precious Mashele, at the CGA provincial championships at the Boksburg stadium.

The Phalula twins pose for a photo with adoring fans, also twins who attend the same Vorentoe High School where Lebo and Lebogang were groomed 20 years ago. Photo Credit: MWMEDIA.

"Precious did not run at this meeting and I would like to run against him at the provincial champs and also at the SA champs. I believe that I can qualify for the Olympic Games at the rate that I am running," added Mzazi. After the race, he celebrated the victory with a romantic dinner with his wife and they hope to qualify for the Olympics in the same distance.

At 37 years old one half of the famous Phalula twins should entering the twilight of her running career. But the first black women to represent South Africa in an Olympic marathon believes she still has a lot left in her legs and is inspired by Namibia's Helalia Johannes who set national records, took the Spar Ladies Grand Prix Series and won a world championship bronze medal in 2019 at 39 years old. "Age is just a number that is written on a piece of paper. I'm just going to run until my body says I'm done now. I'm learning from Helalila. She's older than me but she's still doing good internationally," said Phalula.

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