Mokoka, Van Zyl win national titles

Stephen Mokoka (Gallo Images)
Stephen Mokoka (Gallo Images)

Port Elizabeth - Stephen Mokoka and Irvette van Zyl produced late surges on Saturday, and while they were both edged out by foreign competitors, they did enough to secure the national men's and women's titles at the ASA Half-Marathon Championships in Port Elizabeth.

With Kenyan Edwin Koech making an early break, the elite SA contenders formed a large chase group behind him in the men's race.

Mokoka broke clear of the pack in the second half, dragging Ethiopian athlete Asefa Negewo with him, and while he was able to chip away at the large gap created by Koech, he was unable to catch the leader.

Koech crossed the line in 1:01:26, holding off Mokoka by 10 seconds, with the South African athlete securing the national 21km title in second place overall.

Negewo ended third in 1:01:36, with David Manja (1:02:15) and Gladwin Mzazi (1:02:27) finishing fourth and sixth respectively to earn the silver and bronze medals in the national championships.

While Benedict Moeng was fifth in 1:02:23, he competed as an individual and did not represent his province, so he was not eligible for national championships prizes.

Sibusiso Nzima (1:02:37) and Lusapho April (1:02:39), who will represent South Africa in the marathon at next month's Rio Olympic Games, ended seventh and eighth as they sharpened up for the Games.

Van Zyl, meanwhile, held back for most of the race, with compatriot Lebogang Phalula fighting hard up front alongside Kenyan visitor Sheila Chesang.

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