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  • Writer's pictureMosibodi Whitehead

'I respect the race' - Mosiako leads SA Men to bronze medal at World Road Running Champs

Not since 1999 when Hendrick Ramaala, Abner Chipu and Mluleki Nobanda won gold, has a South African senior men's team finished on the podium at the World Half Marathon Championships. But that all came to an end yesterday when Thabang Mosiako (6th), Stephen Mokoka (11th), Elroy Gelant (13th) and Precious Mashele (19th) claimed the bronze medal behind Kenya and Ethiopia at the inaugural World Road Running Championships in Latvia. Where it was Ramaala's runner-up finish behind Paul Tergat that led Mzansi to victory 24 years ago, it was Mosiako's fabulous performance that secured the bronze medal yesterday.

"To be quite honest everything went well. Preparations went well before the and I knew that we would run well if we had good weather. My strategy was to run with the guys up until God says 'Thabang you have done enough now'" he laughed. "I wanted to run hard so I could close my season with a PB and a great time," said the man who became only the third SA man to break 60 minutes as he set a new career best of 59:52 for sixth place in a race where the Kenyan trio of Sabastian Sawe (59:10), Daniel Ebenyo (59:14) and Samwel Mailu (59:19) swept the podium.

Left to Right: Mosiako, Gelant, Mashele and Mokoka earned the bronze medal at the World Road Running Championships. Photo Credit: MWMedia.

Preparation is one thing, but being able to deliver the performance when it counts is quite another. And it is in this department that the 28-year-old has grown tremendously since he won his first national title over 5000m six years ago. This year alone the man who is now based in Gqeberha under the watchful eye of coach Michael Mbambani training alongside Melikhaya Frans won his maiden national 21km title at the Nelson Mandela Bay Half Marathon, while breaking 28 minutes over 10km for the first time when he claimed third place at the Absa RUN YOUR CITY GQEBERHA 10K.

“It’s because of changing my environment and you must also be disciplined in both training and your lifestyle. Respect training and surround yourself with the right people. My secret about running good times or running well is because I respect the race. I don’t just gooi fartlek, I follow up until I see that it’s the right time to move,” explained the man who is maturing as a world class distance runner.

South African men about to step on the podium at World Half Marathon Championships for the first time since 1999. Photo Credit: Colleen McNally.

Given the quality of his performance on his World Half Marathon Championships debut, Mosiako could be forgiven for celebrating his individual achievement which will certainly open the doors of opportunity for European racing. But speaking to World Athletics technical delegate and Modern Athlete contributor Norrie Williamson in Riga the Nedbank Running Club star chose instead to focus on the team's performance.

"I’m very excited and happy for the team," he said in a sentiment that was echoed by his teammates, especially Gelant who clocked a personal best 1:00:56 for 13th position. "We said two months prior to this that we believed we could get a team medal. We had a plan from the start, Precious said if we can be all us above position 20 in the first 10km then we have a chance of medaling. That was the plan. So the belief of knowing that we were capable of getting a team medal pushed me even when I fell off the pace. I told myself that I can’t let my country down because the last 5kms I was tired but I was thinking of that team medal."

South Africa's women's half marathon team (Xaba, Oldknow, Sosibo and Molotsane) finished in fourth place at the inaugural World Road Running Championships in Latvia. Photo Credit: MWMedia.

In the women's race Cacisle Sosibo produced the most impressive run of her career yet when she took tenth place in a new personal best of 1:09:31. National Half Marathon champion Glenrose Xaba finished in twelfth in 1:09:47 while Cian Oldknow set her seventh personal best of 2023 as she took the fifteenth spot in 1:10:08. Those three ensured that the South African women finished in fourth place overall missing out on the bronze medal by just 11 seconds to Team Great Britain. Kesa Molotsane running in only the second half marathon of her career was 45th in 1:15:19.

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