Olympians renew rivalry in Jozi

Lebo Phalula (Photo: Mark Sampson)
Lebo Phalula (Photo: Mark Sampson)

Johannesburg - Old rivalries between South African twin sisters Lebo and Lebogang Phalula - as well as Zimbabwe's Rutendo Nyahora - will be renewed at the inaugural FNB Joburg 10K CITYRUN in the City of Gold on Saturday, September 24.

The trio have met on various occasions this year particularly over the 10km distance around South Africa.

Lebo Phalula and Nyahora also faced off in Rio in the Olympic marathon where Phalula came out on top, clocking 2:41.46 to Nyahora’s 2:47.32.

Both Lebo Phalula and Nyahora have secured some impressive results since their return from Rio.

First Nyahora won the Spar ladies race in Pretoria on September 3 where she beat Lebo Phalula into second place. Lebo Phalula was unbeatable in the recent Randburg Harriers Street Mile and finished second in the 10km race at the Cape Town Marathon (33:25).

Lebogang Phalula, on the other hand, ran her debut marathon on Sunday in Cape Town.  

All three are looking forward to Saturday and the renewal of a rivalry that has been going for more than five years.

“I have unfinished business in the shorter races,” says Lebo Phalula.

“It was a great honour to represent South Africa at the Olympic Games in Rio. To be the first black woman to run for South Africa at an Olympic Marathon will forever stay with me. I want to run fast. The FNB Joburg 10K CITYRUN is where I expect to run a good time. After Cape Town I know that I am in good shape.”

“The Olympics are a month behind us and I am in good shape after my win in Pretoria on a tough course,” says Nyahora.

“It will be good to race against my friends and rivals, the Phalula sisters. I know this will be a hard race. They always go out hard and push the pace from the gun, but I am confident that I can take them on and even beat them.”

While both Lebo Phalula and Nyahora have had time to recover from the women’s marathon in Rio and should line up with fresher legs, Lebogang Phalula is not worried.

“I have taken it very easy since Sunday and know that I have the strength and endurance in my legs after my marathon training (Lebogang Phalula finished third in her debut marathon in 2:38). So I know I can hold the pace for long. It will be a tough race on Saturday.”

With R20 000 on offer for the first lady across the line, there will be no favours asked nor granted on Saturday and while the trio will be keeping an eye on each other, they will be remiss to overlook Cornelia Joubert who has shown some form of late and will be waiting to bounce on any mistake made up front.

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