Wesley Botton
Chief sports writer
1 minute read
17 Feb 2014
6:00 am

Mokoka reaches for the stars

Wesley Botton

Stephen Mokoka hopes to better his career best when spearheading the national team at the World Half-Marathon Championships in Copenhagen, Denmark, next month.

FILE PICTURE: Stephen Mokoka. Picture: Gallo Images.

Mokoka showed his form on Saturday by winning the men’s 10km race in 30:06 at the Bestmed Tuks event in Pretoria, after turning out in a last-minute decision.

“I wasn’t planning to do the race but my coach (Michael Seme) is a coach at Tuks, so he asked me to go, and I had a nice run,” Mokoka said yesterday.

Mokoka, set to compete at the World Half-Marathon Championships for the fourth time, finished eighth in 2009 and 2012.

And while he’s aiming to close the gap on the podium finishers, he is more concerned about chopping some time off his personal best of 1:00.57, set in Cape Town in August 2012.

“I’m hoping for a better position at the world championships, but the most important thing for me is to improve my half-marathon (21km) time.”

Athletics South Africa has named a provisional three-man team, including Lusapho April and Elroy Gelant. All three will need to shine if they hope to grab a medal in the team competition.

While Mokoka says they would stand more chance with a larger squad, Gladwin Mzazi has been named a non-travelling reserve.

With Gelant smashing the SA indoor 3 000m record twice this month, and April clocking an impressive 1:02:39 in a solo effort in East London, Mokoka nonetheless believes they will manage with a three-man outfit.

“It depends on the day but we’re all training hard and we’ll give it our best shot.

“It would be better to have four guys, or even five, but we can’t do anything about that and we’ll work with the situation we’ve got.”