Wesley Botton
Chief sports writer
1 minute read
28 Mar 2014
5:50 am

SA runners gun for medal

Wesley Botton

Lusapho April and Elroy Gelant are eager to provide solid support for Stephen Mokoka tomorrow as the trio go in search of the country's first medal in 15 years at the World Half-marathon Championships in Copenhagen.

FILE PICTURE: Lusapho April. Picture: ImageSA / Gallo Images.

South Africa earned the last of their seven medals at the 21km showpiece when Hendrick Ramaala finished second overall at the 1999 event in Palermo, leading the men’s team to their second successive gold medal.

April, who was third at the New York Marathon in November, produced a superb solo effort in East London earlier this year, clocking 1:02:39 to confirm he was in fine shape.

“It would mean a lot to us, because it’s been a long time since South Africa came back with a medal,” April, above, said.

“We’ve got a good chance because we all have experience, and the better we can run as individuals, the better our chances will be for a team medal.”

Gelant, better known as a track athlete, dipped under 63 minutes two years ago and finished third at last year’s national half-marathon championships.

With Athletics South Africa opting not to send experienced half-marathon runner Gladwin Mzazi as a back-up, the team will need Gelant to shine if they are to finish among the top three.

They will be spearheaded by Mokoka, who has twice finished eighth at the 21km global championships.

“With Stephen and Lusapho in the team, I must just try and bring my part and I think a medal is a real possibility,” Gelant said.

“My team-mates are really experienced, and if I can stick with them I think we can do well over there.”