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  • Writer's pictureThathe Msimango

Mokoka wishes Mashele well saying his decision to take on the marathon is good for competition

South African road running ace Stephen Mokoka believes Precious Mashele would be a good addition to the South African marathon squad for the Tokyo Olympics if he manages to meet the qualifying standard. Mashele is expected to make his debut over the 42.2km distance at the NN Mission Hamburg Marathon on 11 April in Germany and he must run 2:11:30 to be on the plane to Japan.

Mashele (far left) with Glenrose Xaba (second from left), Mokoka and Collen Mulaudzi at the World Half Marathon Championships in October 2020.

Speaking to the TopRunner in Durban, Mokoka, who was on a holiday with his wife Zinhle, said he decided to use his spare time to train at Kings Park Athletics with his friend Adam Lipschitz of Phantane Athletics Club. And he regards track as the perfect environment to train as there is no disturbance.

"I came here for the holiday for 3 days with my wife," explains Mokoka. "But because I'm a runner so I decided to come and train here. Some of the guys I know train here so there was no other place I could train. I'm used to them, Cuan is a friend, and Adam is a friend too. So they said let's go for a jog. Normally I don't jog on the road. So we chose the stadium because there are no cars and no disturbance."

Mokoka training at the Kings Park Stadium in Durban. Photo Credit: Cuan Walker.

The 36 year-old South African half marathon record holder is aiming to run an international marathon as part of his Tokyo 2021 preparation, which is something his manager Federico Rossi is working hard to make it happen. Even with the absence of any SA races over 10km for almost a year, Mokoka is fit and ready for anything as he has been training hard. "I have to run a marathon now before the Olympics and the manager is still trying to find something for me," said the Boxer Athletics Club Top Runner.

"And in two months, I have to start preparing for the Olympics and I hope they continue. I hope the vaccine will be rolled out or Covid19 cases would be so low so that they allow the Olympics to continue and would be happy. But the most important thing is to for me to be healthy and be in shape before the Olympics in order to do well," he explained. "For me, the shape is good as I'm preparing for a marathon and hope to get one in April. I never stopped training. I kept training because if you are a runner, you keep training and hope things open up."

Mashele has been training hard throughout the lockdown with his Zoo Lake Training Group teammates who included Desmond Mokgobu (centre) who has also qualified for the Olympic Marathon. Photo Credit: MWMEDIA.

The former South African marathon champion also welcomed Mashele's decision to switch to marathon distance as he believes the man from Limpopo has been an outstanding performer for quite some time now. Mokoka says Mashele would bring healthy competition to the South African marathon squad. "I wish him luck, I hope he is injury-free. He must keep the focus and I wish him a good race and hope he achieves a good time," said an encouraging Mokoka.

"I hope he runs a good time and qualifies for the Olympics. He has been in all stages, he has been at the World Half Marathon and finished 24th. I just hope he is going to have a good race and not carried away because it is a foreign distance. If he qualifies it would be good to have him in the team. So we are just hoping, even myself crossing fingers that I don't get out of the team because if races do open and other guys attempt to qualify. Then the system in our country is simple if someone runs faster than you out of the team. So I hope he has a good race and I also wish races can open for other guys to try and qualify."

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