S. Africans finish fifth in Spain champs

2011-03-21 00:00

IMANA Marga, in a devastating turn of pace, took the World Cross-country title in Spain yesterday in an event that saw the South African squad produce their best-ever result in the championships.

Marga was the sole Ethiopian in the pack, who had been whittled down from around 20 to five by the final lap. He broke the tape in 33 minutes 50 seconds for the 12 km distance. The Kenyans had the consolation of earning their third team gold of the day.

Stephen Mokoka was again the leader of the SA squad, tactically moving from 28th position after the first lap to 15th at the finish in 35 minutes 10 seconds. Under his leadership the team moved from seventh into fifth position, the best they have achieved to date.

Kgosi Tsosane was lying less than five places behind until the penultimate lap when he seemed to lose steam, but hung on for a 29th place finish, while Tshamano Setone moved up to 25th in 35:38, 10 seconds ahead of Tsosane.

In recent years the South African squad have improved their standing on each outing and this year’s event saw all four teams make their mark in the top 10 of their categories.

René Kalmer led the South African sextet home in 31st position in 27 minutes and two seconds, which was just over two minutes off the pace. Kalmer turned the tables on the likes of Annerien van Schalkwyk and Lebogang Phalula, raising questions as to whether some of the team were over-raced. The overall ninth team place is one of the best by the country since the international return almost 20 years ago.

The South African junior women’s team placed tenth overall

South Africa were sixth overall with William Kaptein the best in 26th position in 23:52.

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