"Running is our daily bread," - Mokgobu thanks sponsors as he wins PMC Family Road Race 21km
"I'm proud that I have never worked yet I've been able to make a living through running," were Desmond Mokgobu's words after winning the Palabora Mining Company 21km Family Road Race in Limpopo on Saturday. The 33-year old Entsika Athletic Club runner showed all his experience as he outfoxed one of the find's of 2021 Mbuleli Mathanga, who faded to fourth place after leading through halfway. With Thabang Mosiako in second, David Manja in third and Namakoe Nkhasi in fifth the half marathon was a star-studded affair, reflecting the draw of the R21 000 purse which Mokgobu took back to Zoo Lake where he is coached by Hendrick Ramaala.
"I'm a full time runner, so we make sure that we are always ready for any racing opportunity like this one, when it presents itself. The preparation began after the Olympic Games last year. Remember that during the lockdown we were training but there were no races. So I'm very happy that I won this race and that the sponsors could organise it. My wish is that there will be more of these because we need money for training as running is our daily bread. I'm very happy," he told a throng of journalists at the Phalaborwa Stadium shortly after securing the victory in warm and slightly humid conditions.
His candid comments may come as an Okapi to the hearts of those who continually purport that South African athletics is amateur. But because he hails from the Limpopo village of Senwabarwana outside Bochum, the words of the man who won the 2018 Beppu Oita Marathon in Japan will encourage those youngsters from rural areas for whom an athletic career may be the only way to escape the cycle of poverty.
And although he bested him on the day, Mokgobu singled out 28-year old Mathanga who he believes along with 2021's star performer Precious Mashele, are the generation to take South African long distance running to the next level.
"He is focussed. I can count him with Precious Mashele from Limpopo as the runners who will still be performing very well in three years time. In the future it will be them that will represent the country internationally because they are focussed. For example the World Championships take place in the United States later this year and I think they have the opportunity qualify to run track there," he concluded.
In the women's race, Lesotho's Neheng Khatala was dominant winning by over five minutes. The men's 10km race was won by Olympian Sibusiso Nzima.