Pick of Mother City field

2013-03-24 10:00

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Ahead of the Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon, which takes place on Saturday, Daniel Mothowagae picks the top men and women to watch across the ultra and half marathons at the traditional Easter weekend race in Cape Town.

Helalia Johannes

Age: 32

Club: Individual (Namibia)

The four-time champion missed last year’s race owing to her preparations for the London ­Olympics.

Although she did not finish her other two races in 2005 and 2008, ­Johannes will be marking her seventh ­appearance in Cape Town.

She ran a record 1:11.57 in 2011 en route to her ­victory, breaking the 1:12.39 set by René Kalmer in 2010.

René Kalmer

Age: 32

Club: Nedbank Running (Central Gauteng)

Kalmer made a clean sweep in all the four half marathons she competed in last year and will now turn out in her sixth 21km Two Oceans as the defending champion.

The record-snaring Kalmer boasts a top-10 finish since her debut at the Easter weekend race in 2006.

She was South Africa’s top performer in the women’s marathon team at the Olympics last year, finishing a credible 35th.

She has just recovered from a foot injury.

Stephen Mokoka

Age:28

Club: Transnet (North Gauteng) “Tshipi” had a near-flawless run last year, ending his campaign with a season best 1:00.57 (record) in the SA Half Marathon.

He won the Two Oceans 21km on debut in 2009, and he will be looking at putting behind the disappointment of not finishing in the 2011 edition.

He made a winning start to the year when he clinched the Tuks BestMed 21km in 1:06 in February. He finished 49th on his debut at the London Olympics last year.

Bongumusa Mthembu

Age: 29

Club: Nedbank Running (KwaZulu-Natal)

An unassuming character, Mthembu is ­undoubtedly one of the rapidly rising stars in the ultra-marathon competition.

He has three 56km Two Oceans Marathons to his name, and attained his first top-10 finish last year by coming?fourth in a ­respectable 3:10.16.

He was the runner-up to Ludwick Mamabolo in last year’s Comrades Marathon.

Stephen Muzhingi

Age: 37

Club: Toyota Athletics (Central Gauteng)

The Zimbabwe-born runner has proved his ultra-race pedigree and his highlight was his hat-trick of wins in the Comrades Marathon between 2009 and 2011.

Muzhingi has stamina and his performance seems to be maturing with age as he has moved from times of 3:22 to 3:08 since his debut in 2006.

He has made the top 10 five times in his six attempts in the 56km, including his victory in 3:08:08 last year.

Elena Nurgalieva

Age: 37

Club: Maxed Elite International (Russia)

Nurgalieva is the most accomplished of the popular Russian twin sisters with four Two Oceans ultra titles to her credit.

She wrestled the crown from Olesya after two runner-up spots in 2010 and 2011.

Elena has never missed a race since making her debut in 2004.

This year will mark her 10th appearance. She is also the ­defending Comrades Marathon champion.

Olesya Nurgalieva

Age: 37

Club: Maxed Elite International (Russia)

The Russia-born athlete won three titles in her seven appearances in the ultra race and she is odds-on favourite to bounce back with a gold after she missed last year’s edition due to injury.

Nurgalieva and her twin sister, Elena, have won nine Comrades Marathon titles from 2003 to last year.

Two-deck subhead goes here ­ if you please.

Comrades Marathon winner Ludwick Modibe Mamabolo will mark his return to big-time road running in his ninth attempt at the Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon in Cape Town on Saturday.

The 36-year-old had his provisional ban lifted in February after an independent tribunal granted him the right to return to competition despite his pending doping violation case.

Mamabolo has entered the 56km event and will run in the colours of Bedfordview Country Club, the same team he represented in 2002.

Although he was a bit evasive when asked about his mission in Cape Town, he told City Press this week: “So far, so good. I’m not going to say more except to say I am ready for next week.”

Mamabolo, who hails from Ga-Sekgopo in Limpopo, made his debut in the Two Oceans ultra race in 2001. and finished 81st.

His best run was during the 2009 edition, in which he finished seventh.

Road to Rio 2016 starts today

Running blades, prosthetic legs and wheelchairs will roll into the University of Pretoria for this year’s Nedbank National Championships for the Physically Disabled.

The championships take off today in the capital, and cover track and field, swimming, sevens football, goalball, boccia, road cycling (juniors) and judo.

The event, which ends on Thursday, will lay a foundation for 2016 Paralympic Games hopefuls as it has proved to be the breeding ground for future stars since its inception in 1992.

SA Sport for the Physically Disabled president Isaac Shadung said: “The championships have served as the perfect springboard for a number of Paralympic medallists. For that reason, we are happy that this year’s championships will be a new beginning, a new chance for new faces to impress us. The road to Rio starts here.”

The event will feature some accomplished names in Paralympics such as Ilse Hayes (two-time long jump gold medallist), Fanie van der Merwe (100m, 200m champion), Hilton Langenhoven (three-time Beijing 2008 gold medallist), Kevin Paul (2008 swimming champ), Shireen Shapiro (2008 backstroke 100m champion) and Jonathan Ntutu (London 2012 bronze medallist).

But one man will be conspicuously missing: the one-time Paralympic icon, Oscar “The Blade Runner” Pistorius. – City Press correspondent

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