Elroy Gelant and Kesa Molotsane were the star performers in Mbombela on Saturday, earning the national men’s and women’s titles respectively, at the ASA 10km Championships.
Representing Athletics Central North West (ACNW), Gelant launched a late kick to retain his title in the men’s race, covering the distance in 29:08.
Gladwin Mzazi took the silver medal in 29:15 and fellow Central Gauteng Athletics (CGA) team member Precious Mashele, the national cross country champion, was third in 29:17.
“I’m very glad defending my title today and I’m very happy with my performance today,” said Gelant. “It was very technical from start to finish because around 8 to 10 km we were still about 10 guys.
“So, I just focussed on my strength towards the end and my speed. The last kilometre Gladwin and I broke away and it was a sprint to the finish.
“I’m glad (therefore) how the season went especially after not going to IAAF World Champs for the 5000km and (shift my) focus on the marathon. But the focus is a four-year plan and the big aim is the Tokyo Marathon. Possibly the year before 2010, I’ll do another marathon.
“But for now I’ll stay on the track because there are still things I want to achieve, that’s why I’m happy with the time I achieved today especially inland.”
Mzazi, at second place, was satisfied with his performance as well.
“I felt very good, I just didn’t have the speed to go with Elroy at the end,” said Mzazi, who led CGA to the gold medal in the team division. “Next year I will work on that.”
Aiming for her maiden SA title on the road, Molotsane broke away with less than three kilometres remaining to win the women’s race in 33:38.
She finished 20 seconds clear of Nolene Conrad of Western Province Athletics (WPA), and Glenrose Xaba of Athletics Gauteng North (AGN) earned the bronze medal in 34:25.
Defending champion Lebo Phalula (CGA) settled for fourth place, a further 22 seconds behind.
“It was a really nice, comfortable course,” Molotsane said.
“I love hills and it was a bit hilly, but it was reasonable. Not bad hills where you have to struggle to get on top of it, so I enjoyed the route.”
A total of 291 athletes, representing 14 of Athletics South Africa’s 17 provinces, were in the provisional entry lists for the annual 10km championships.