KZN’s Tanith Maxwell sets new personal best in Port Elizabeth

2010-07-26 00:00

TANITH Maxwell set a new personal best to earn the bronze medal in the SA Half-marathon Championships in Port Elizabeth on Saturday.

Irvette van Blerk capitalised on the ideal running conditions to open 500 metres on the women’s field over the flat, fast Motherwell township course, leaving Western Province’s Zintle Xiniwe and Maxwell to battle it out for the minor podium places.

Maxwell, the 34-year-old KZN marathoner, did well to close on the younger Xiniwe, but ran out of distance to finish 50 metres adrift.

Van Blerk earned the title in 1:11:09 with Maxwell’s 1:13:22 carving one-and-a-half minutes from the personal best she recorded on the same course last year.

The Boxer athlete has moved up the all-time South African ranking to 14th, and looks set to be part of the team to the World Half-marathon Championships in October.

The only other senior woman sent by KZN, Daniel Adlam, finished 29th in 84:1.

Talented junior Thobane Chagwe endured a three-way tussle with Transkei’s Sithembele Fanekho and Port Elizabeth athlete Xola Bongoza in the men’s junior category. Despite his best efforts and fininshing 27th overall, Chagwe could not reel in Fanekho, who crossed the line in 1:06:23, with a mere seven seconds comfort zone.

Central Gauteng’s Lucky Mohale won the men’s race in 1:11:58, with team-mate Sibusiso Nzima (1:02:10) second and Lusapho April (1:02:24) third.

Maya Lawrie delivered the province’s third medal in the 40-49 category. Grace de Oliveira, the province’s only other 40-49 category runner, was fourth, just failing to break 83 minutes.

However, the KZN team, and the women in particular, were let down by inflexible selector decisions. By restricting selection on individual criteria without allowance for team competition, the province fielded only two senior and two 40-49 women.

Although this quartet had two master athletes, their combined time was 5:22:20, less than 11 minutes from the bronze medal for the Open Team award. Even more predictable was the combined time for Lawrie and De Oliveria of 2:44:57, which would only have required a third athlete to run 1:57:20 for the bronze medals, or 1:44:19 for the silver medal.

The province not only has a number of 40-49 age group women capable of these times, but also at least three 50-59 athletes.

It’s one of a number of issues that have upset local athletes, but that may be addressed sooner rather than later. While the team competed in Port Elizabeth, KZN Athlectics were holding a special general meeting at King’s Park to chose the province’s first democratically elected athletes’ commission.

The elections were the result of nine months of negotiations that followed athletes’ allegations of mismanagement and autocratic decisions by the KZNA executive.

Following the recent amendment to the constitution, Saturday morning’s elections put New York Marathon winner Willie Mtolo in as chair of the new commission, with Gill Tregenna as vice and Janine Engels, Rhyn Swanepoel and Maxwell Mngwengwe the three additional members.

The commission is charged with looking after the interests of athletes in the province, but will also provide input on all athletic administration.

One of the first tasks may be the dissemination of the report on the Athletics SA disciplinary hearings, which affected the previous structure and suspended president Leonard Chuene in particular.

The Witness understands that a top legal team has been engaged for the process and that Sascoc will be making an announcement early this week.

The interim board members were summoned to an urgent special meeting in Johannesburg on Saturday and it has been said that the charges may include jail-able offences.

SA Half Marathon Championship results

Men: 1 Lucky Mohale CGA 1:01:58; 2 Sibusiso Nzima CGA 1:02:10; 3 Lusapho April TEMP 1:02:24; 4 Lungisa Mdedelwa NEDEC; 1:02:30; 5 Zolani Ntongana WPA 1:02:34

Women: 1 Irvette van Blerk CGA 1:11:09; 2 Zintle Xiniwe WPA 1:13:13; 3 Tanith Maxwell KZN 1:13:22; 4 Thozama April AGN 1:13:58, 5 Mpho Mabuza CGA 1:15:28

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