Yawa’s record still the benchmark

2016-03-09 06:00
XOLILE YAWA (right), who set a record in the men’s 15 km 26 years ago, and Tshakile Nzimande, former South African record holder in the 200 m sprint. Photo: Teboho Setena

XOLILE YAWA (right), who set a record in the men’s 15 km 26 years ago, and Tshakile Nzimande, former South African record holder in the 200 m sprint. Photo: Teboho Setena

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THE record one of South Africa’s greatest athletes, Xolile Yawa, set in the men’s category of the 15 km 26 years ago, is still the benchmark for athletes to compete against in this year’s race of the Real Lions Athletics Club.

Yawa set a South African record of 43:02, which has only been beaten three times since, and by no more than four seconds.

The 15 km is the main event of this annual race. It will see runners propelling their efforts to attain or better Yawa’s record in the men’s category.

The 4,6 km fun run is still part of the race, which will start and finish at the Welkom Technical High School.

The winner of multiple track events and half marathons, Yawa, is thrilled by the idea that his record is still the benchmark more than 20 years into his retirement.

“I’m truly humbled and feel honoured by the gesture that my achievement still inspires people,” said Yawa (53).

“It is a very significant recognition. In my view, it is like going back to basics, to start doing what is correct and it will revive athletics to its former glory, when it was the third most popular and a supported sporting code in South Africa.”

Yawa said another significant aspect influencing his record was the weather.

“It was in very unfriendly weather conditions, windy, but I won.

“I ran against some of the greatest competitors of all time in South Africa, one being Mathews Temane. If not achieved now, I think in the next generation one will set a new record.”

Nine-time winner of the South African 10 000 m title, with two 10 000 m records in 27:39.65, Yawa ran for the President Brand Mine in Welkom in the Free State.

“It is a special honour, the fact that it is happening in Welkom, where I rose to fame. It means I’m not forgotten as a citizen of Welkom.

“Without being arrogant, I selflessly contributed to Welkom in sport and having a club benchmarking on my record signifies that I’m a citizen held in high esteem in the town. I welcome that generally, because Welkom was my home away from Lady Frere in the Eastern Cape.”

German Ditshoane, the club’s manager and coach, said the re-introduction of the 15 km was aimed at improving the standard of competition and inspiring runners by striving to match or break Yawa’s record.

“We use Yawa’s record for youngsters to measure themselves as to what kind of athletes we strive to produce,” said Ditshoane.

He said the first athlete – both for the men’s and women’s categories – to reach the 10 km mark and finish the 15 km in the top ten, will receive a R400 bonus prize.

The male and female winners of the 15 km race will receive R1 000, while second and third positions will get R750 and R500 respectively. The winners will receive gold medals.

Registration for the 15 km race costs R50 and R25 for the 4,6 km fun run.

The school entering the most athletes will receive a trophy.

Call Ditshoane on 076-579-1442.

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