I won because I never stopped training - Mashele
Fresh from winning the Central Gauteng Athletics cross country championships, Precious Mashele is now targeting first place at the national trials in Potchefstroom on 23 January. The 30-year-old Boxer Athletics Club star took top spot on the podium at the Central Gauteng Athletics event in Kagiso on Saturday when he clocked 31:13 in the senior men's 10km race. Kabelo Melamu of Murray & Roberts Running Club took second place in 31:13, while Simon Sibeko of Quite Cool settled for a third-place finish in 31:37, followed by Gladwin Mzazi of Boxer in 31:52 for fourth. Pharsons Magagane of Entsika who trains with Mashele, rounded out the top five as he too dipped under 32 minutes. Magagane's 31:58 was indicative of a tight men's race run in hot conditions.
The Ga-Mashashane-born runner told #TheTopRunner that he knew he had the race wrapped up with 2km to go, adding that he would soon like to run in a half-marathon and a full marathon to test himself. "The conditions were hot, but I knew that I had raced under control. The race was too short for me. I still have a lot of energy and would like to run in a longer race. I am in good spirits to win the cross country event in Potch," said a confident Mashele.
The soft-spoken Mashele won the senior men's national cross country title for the last five years in a row and is aiming to make it six in 2021. Also on his to-do list for this year are the Olympic Games in Japan where he hopes to book his ticket to Tokyo in the 5000m event. "I am positive that I can make the Olympics. I am targeting a time of 13:14 in the 5000m. If I can be able to secure races overseas, I will be able to achieve a lot for myself," he said.
The soft-spoken Mashele is part of Hendrick Ramaala's training group at Zoo Lake.
He said they continued training during the festive season. "I won the cross country race easily because we never stopped training in December. We worked on hills, mileage, and endurance with the coach. All that hard work paid off," explained Mashele. About 50 runners took part in the cross country event in Kagiso on the west of Johannesburg. "The attendance was good, and we wore our masks and took them off during the race and put them back on towards the finishing line. It is a new experience, but we have to protect each other," added Mashele.
In the women's senior 10km race, road running queen Lebo Phalula stopped the clock at 37:28 to win her first race of the New Year. Cacisile Sosibo of Entsika finished in second place just 9 seconds behind, while Lebogang Phalula-Luthuli of Boxer grabbed third place with a time of 38:15. Cian Oldknow of Murray & Roberts and Cornelia Joubert of Boxer settled for fourth and fifth place respectively in 38:34 and 39:57.