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  • Writer's pictureThathe Msimango

'My next challenge is to go to Paris and bring back a medal' - Ramakongoana reflects on national record

Tebello Ramakongoana is satisfied with the effort that saw him clock a huge personal best time of 2:08:09 during the Osaka Marathon in Japan on Sunday (25 February). Ramakongoana ended up finishing 12th overall and by running faster than the stringent 2:08:10 Olympic qualification standard, he also secured automatic qualification to the global showpiece scheduled to take place in the French capital of Paris from July. The 27-year-old top runner from Lesotho is pleased with his time even though he entered the race with the mission to run faster than he eventually did. 

After taking fourth place in the marathon during the 2023 World Championships in Budapest, Ramakongoana is aiming to win a medal fro Lesotho at #Paris2024. Photo Credit: Jane Monti.

"I'm happy with the performance even though I didn't manage to produce the time I wanted to run. My target was to run sub 2:08 and qualify for the Olympics. It has been a dream I have been working hard for. I can say that a strong field always helps to produce better results in terms of  fast times," said the Xtep-sponsored athlete.

Ramokongoana has been transformed since switching to longer distances. Last year, he set a new Half Marathon record for The Mountain Kingdom with an incredible time of 1:00:35 at the Nelson Mandela Bay Half Marathon in Gqeberha. And his run in Asia over the weekend now makes him the holder of two national records because he shattered the previous mark of 2:09:47 set by Motlokoa Nkhabutlane in Paris seven years ago. The man who runs in the colours of Xcel Running Club when he competes in South Africa, believes his hard work is paying off and has set sights on Paris.

Ramakongoana in the colours of his new sponsor Xtep. Photo Credit: Supplied.

"I'm happy that I am the half marathon national record holder and also now for the marathon.  This shows me that I'm really on the right path. I'm working hard. I didn't expect it happen to this early in my career. The next challenge on my table is to go to Paris and bring back a medal for the nation," shared the man who has been coached by American James McKirdy since they met at the World Championships in Eugene, Oregon in 2022. 

For Xcel founder Mandla Mngomezulu, witnessing Ramakongoana's rapid progress has underlined his belief that the region is blessed with talent and so fuels his desire to continue investing in the sport.

"I think when we started, we set ourselves goals that we must assist upcoming athletes to end up being known. When we took Tebello under our wing, we knew that he had potential but needed support to succeed in his career. I'm glad he has progressed so much in a short space of time. It is for that reason we are grateful that the club is on the right track in terms of our mission. He is a good and disciplined athlete so I'm not surprised with the performance he pulled off on Sunday. I'm still expecting more from him in the future," he said. 

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