Ho guns for 5th Mile win

2014-02-08 00:00

LAST year’s champions Chad Ho and Ashley Twichell will be the best bet to once again finish in first place in this year’s Midmar Mile taking place at Midmar Dam this weekend.

Ho, gunning for his fifth consecutive Mile victory, will have to fend off two-time winner Troyden Prinsloo, who has finished as the runner- up for the last two editions of the event.

Midmar Mile organiser Wayne Riddin told Weekend Witness that Prinsloo would likely push Ho all the way, but he felt it was going to take something special to beat the four-time holder. “It’s going to be tough to beat him [Ho]. By winning it four times, he has already created history,” said Riddin.

Riddin, who won the Mile in 1975 and 1976, said Ho’s dominance, which has been likened to that of Bruce Fordyce in the Comrades Marathon between 1981 and 1991, would be good for the event.

“He’s a fitting guy. He’s a past under-14 winner and he’s had a long association with the Midmar,” he said.

In the women’s race, last year’s winner American Twichell will be in for a tough race to defend her title against seven times winner, Briton Keri-Anne Payne. After Payne pipped Twichell at the finish by two seconds in 2012, the American came back last year and won with a 15-second margin between them.

Twichell did come to South Africa in brilliant form, having won the Swim the Swan 10 km Open at the Aquatic Super Series in Perth, Australia. The 24-year-old pocketed a cool $17 000 (R188 734) for winning that competition. Prinsloo finished second in the men’s race behind the winner, Australian Jarrod Poort.

Seven seconds behind Payne last year was South Africa’s best finisher among the women, Michelle Weber, who finished in third place. But, after going through a heart procedure last year, the former youth world champion, and two-time under-13 winner in 2009 and 2010, was aiming at finishing in the top five.

“My fitness is getting a lot better. I’m not in peak form, but I’m really happy where I am at the moment,” Weber said earlier in the week.

“I think I am in good enough form to compete for a place in the top five. I’m just going to try my best. I always go to Midmar to have fun. That’s the main thing,” she said.

At 80 years of age, journalist Tommy Ballantyne will be the oldest male competitor at this year’s Midmar. Beating him by 10 years, the oldest swimmer will be 90-year-old Lorna Cochran from Johannesburg, who comes back for another go.

Unfortunately for this year’s Midmar, South Africa’s Olympic gold medalist Cameron van der Berg will not be returning, because he is currently in the middle of his preparation for the upcoming national championships taking place in Durban between April 7 and 12.

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