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  • Writer's pictureThathe Msimango

'It's wonderful!' - Motsau rolls back the years with first 1500m SA title in a decade

Veteran South African middle-distance champion Jerry Motsau prevailed in a thrilling race as he held off a strong challenge from Nkosinathi Sibiya to clinch the 1 500m national title at the SA Track & Field Championship held at Umsunduzi Athletics Stadium yesterday (21 April). Motsau clocked to 3:38:82 to Sibiya's 3:39.02, for what was his first 1500m title since 2014. 20-year-old Neil van der Merwe produced a timely final surge to grab the bronze medal in a personal best 3:39.78.

The 34-year-old Motsu's victory came just a day after he failed to finish the 5000m on Saturday, which was run on a hot Pietermaritzburg afternoon. Speaking to journalists afterwards, Motsau revealed he was excited to stand on top of the podium once again. 

Motsau and Sibiya fight it out down the home straight. Photo Credit: Tumelo Mabua.

"I'm happy with today's run after the disappointing 5 000m yesterday because the body wasn't responding at all. I don't know maybe the heat took a toll on me. But today, I didn't expect much so me and my coach agreed that said I must just go out to race - that's all.  It was really challenging but I told myself I shouldn't give up and run through the tape which is what I did," explained the man who is the holder of a 13:22.17 5000m personal best set in Belgium last May.

Of the three SA titles he has won (2x 1500m and 1x 5000m), this is the most special for the Athletics Central North West top runner because he has been hampered by injuries for the past two years. "Actually it feels good because not being able run at your best because of injuries and sicknesses, is heartbreaking. The secret to my success this year is that I have been consistent for the past eight months. I have been training without interruptions since last year October and I'm so happy to be able to run again. It's wonderful!"


Motsau in action during 2021 when he missed out on Olympic qualification for the Tokyo Games. This time around he is hopeful of going to #Paris2024 after winning his first SA title since 2018. Photo Credit: Cuan Walker.

As he is in good shape and showing some encouraging signs, the country's third fastest 3000m athlete of all time (7:40.99) feels that with European races still to come, he can attempt to qualify for a maiden Olympic birth to run twelve and a half laps of the track in Paris in August.

"Actually I'm going to try," he replied when asked about whether he would attempt Olympic qualification over 5000m. "Yesterday I thought I was going to run sub 13:15, but the body didn't allow and conditions were a bit harsh so it didn't happen. So I was disappointed even when I was alone in my hotel room, I kept asking myself what went wrong. But I have decided to let it pass because today it a new day so we must try again."

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