Moloi praises Mashele as CGA celebrate a successful opening track meet of the season
Central Gauteng Athletics (CGA) president James Moloi could not stop raving about SA 5-time cross-country champion Precious Mashele. The 30-year-old Limpopo-born runner was the headline act at CGA’s first track and field meeting of 2021 at the Boksburg Stadium on Saturday. Mashele made his mentor Hendrick Ramaala who (a four-time Olympian) proud when he braved the hot weather conditions to win the 5000m race against a strong field. The ever-smiling runner breasted the tape first in 14:11:40 to finish ahead of his training partner Desmond Mokgobu (14:34:90) who is also coached by the 2004 New York Marathon champion. It was a strong field including 2018 SA Cross Country champion Marco Bucarizza (14:56:60), and Joel Mmone who took third and fourth places respectively in a competitive race.
Moloi who is also a board member and chairperson of Athletics South Africa (ASA) road running, was on hand to witness the men’s 5000m. “It was a beautiful race to watch and you can tell that our athletes are hungry to run. Mashele has the potential to achieve something big this year just watch the space. The heat did not dampen the mood. I would like to congratulate everyone that took part in our first meeting and wish them well in their future endeavours. Watching the men and women’s 5000m race was the highlight for me. Mashele was great and he showed his class. This is what we need for the sport,” said a jubilant Moloi.
Three-time Soweto marathon champion Irvette van Zyl won the ladies 5000m crown, taking line honours in 16:55:10 as she lapped competitors at will to underline the concerning lack of depth in women's 5 000m and 10 000m running in SA at the moment. Her Nedbank Running Club teammate Stella Marais (17:29:80) was second, while Boxer Running Club star Cornelia Joubert finished in the bronze medal position in 18:20:00.
CGA's first track meeting also attracted international participants as six athletes from Doha, Qatar and one guest from Italy were in attendance. “The event was an overwhelming success and all of the entries were sold-out. The turnout was great and we are ready to do it again on Saturday at 9.30am. Athletes must hurry to enter before entries are snapped up,” Moloi told the Top Runner yesterday.
Fresh from winning his 5000m event at the weekend, Mashele did a 30km run yesterday as part of his marathon preparation. The reigning CGA cross-country champion used this opening track meet of the season as part of his preparations for the NN Mission Marathon Hamburg Marathon on 11 April. However, his preference is to qualify for the men’s 5000m event at the Olympic Games. The qualifying time in the men’s 5000m is 13:13. “It was my first track meeting this year and I would like to push for the 5000m. I am leaving the door open for the marathon, but my preference is to run the 5000m at the Olympics," he said.
The hardworking runner feels that this could be his year and wants to make the most of it by pushing for the Olympic qualification spot. “It helps to be coached by an Olympic legend and I am enjoying myself. The season has just started, lets wait and see what I can achieve this year. But I believe that I am in top shape already. The best of me is yet to come. I am just getting started,” said Mashele.