Humble Ngomane 'was just lucky'

2005-06-16 17:18
<b>Sipho Ngomane, winner of the 80th Comrades Marathon. (Natal Witness)</b>

Sipho Ngomane, winner of the 80th Comrades Marathon. (Natal Witness)

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Durban - Comrades Marathon winner Sipho Ngomane of Nelspruit was "geared to win the 80th running of the famed race" from Pietermaritzburg to Durban by mentor Nic Bester who was delighted that he was the man to bring Harmony Athletic Club (formerly Harmony Gold) a first ever Comrades title.

And Ngomane himself declared with great humility: "I was just lucky today, it all went right."

The 23-year-old Ngomane was born in January 1982 and has now joined the immortals of Comrades Marathon history. As one of the fastest finishers of the Down run he obviously enjoys the challenges.

Indeed he gives one the impression that he just loves running. He first took up athletics in 1998 after playing soccer initially. But he does not know what the motivation was for the change.

'Professional sportsman'

He said: "I liked it and just enjoyed myself."

Now he is listed on the Comrades records as a "professional sportsman" who had a qualifying time of two hours 14 minutes in a warm-up race at Elands Valley in Mpumalanga.

He has previously won a silver medal in the Comrades.

Ngomane's win in the 2005 Comrades did not, however, surprise Bester. "Yes, we expected it. It was a hell of an effort and we really needed to keep Sipho in harness," he said.

He added that the main purpose was to keep the new champion from experiencing a "burn out" after he had run three major races in three successive weekends.

He was second in the SA Marathon in Durban in February where he was timed at two hours 19 minutes, then ran the Mpumalanga Marathon the next weekend in two hours 13 minutes and the third weekend had a three hours, eight minutes time in the Two Oceans.

It was then that Bester said to his prodigy: "Don't run anymore races before the Comrades." So he just stayed and trained and trained and trained.

Apart from the Jock of the Bushveld Marathon at Barberton which was more of a training run than anything else.

Kept in hiding

The last two months has seen the modest new Comrades King almost in hiding but in following Bester's advice - Harmony assisted him financially along the way - he has now achieved fame and possibly fortune after humble beginnings.

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