Victor Bongmusa makes his family — and KZN — proud again

2018-06-11 17:08
LEFT: Comrades winner Bongmusa Mthembu crosses the finish line in a time of 5:26:34 at Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban on Sunday. RIGHT: Ann Ashworth won the women’s races in a time of 6:10:04.

LEFT: Comrades winner Bongmusa Mthembu crosses the finish line in a time of 5:26:34 at Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban on Sunday. RIGHT: Ann Ashworth won the women’s races in a time of 6:10:04. (Ian Carbutt)

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As Bongmusa Mthembu stormed towards the finish line to win his third Comrades Marathon title at Moses Mabhida Stadium on Sunday, his siblings struggled to hold back their tears of joy as their hero made them proud again.

And there was another Midlands success story in the great race on Sunday when Howick-raised Ann Ashworth won the women’s title for the first time, beating the title favourites.

Mthembu registered a time of 5:26:34 to claim his second title in a row, and third overall.

Among the scores of spectators inside the stadium was his older brother Thulebona, sister Thandazile, her twin Thabile, and cousin Nonhlanhla Mthembu.

Before Mthembu made his way into the iconic venue, the family members were part of the athlete’s fans who kept singing and chanting his name.

When he approached the line to finish the gruelling race, the family members hugged each other and broke into tears.

“These are tears of joy. God has blessed us,” said Thandazile while using her hand to wipe the tears.

“At home they woke up at 2 am just to make sure that they get to the finish point at Moses Mabhida Stadium, but some of us slept in PMB on Saturday because there was no way we were going to miss the moment,” she said.

Thulebona said: “We are extremely excited as the family. There are even family members who came from afar just to be here for Bongmusa and he has made all of us proud.

“Our mother didn’t come to the finish line but I know at home she has her church regalia on and is praying. When she is happy she kneels down and prays,” said the older brother yesterday.

Both Thulebona, who revealed his brother was also a good soccer player, and Thandazile said Bongmusa has used his talent to make sure they were afforded a decent living at home as things have not been easy since the death of their father in 1997.

Meanwhile, Ashworth, who went to Howick High before settling in Gauteng, took the women’s field by surprise and beat fellow South African Gerda Steyn and powerful Russian Alexandra Morozova for her first Comrades success.

“It was an amazing race from start to finish,” the 34-year-old said.

Ashworth finished Sunday’s challenge of 90,184 km in 6:10:04, followed by Steyn in 6:15:34 and Morozova in 6:20:21.

She had previously not even had a top-10 spot in her six previous finishes.

Last year she had an injury problem.

Ashworth won R640 000 for her victory in the women’s race and as the first South African in that section.

Mthembu collected a total of R685 000 as he also earned the KZN-specific bonus.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  comrades marathon

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