Wesley Botton
Chief sports writer
1 minute read
28 Mar 2015
10:25 am

SA cross country team battle in China

Wesley Botton

Stephen Mokoka was the best of the South Africans, as the national team struggled in damp, muddy conditions at the World Cross Country Championships in Guiyang, China, on Saturday.

Picture Thinkstock

Mokoka took 28th place in the senior men’s 12km race in 37:14, crossing the line more than two minutes behind Kenyan Geoffrey Kamworor, who won gold in 34:52. “I’m not happy with my position, but I have to say it was the toughest course I’ve ever run at the world champs,” Mokoka said after the race.  Precious Mashele (38th), Gladwin Mzazi (42nd) and veteran Shadrack Hoff (50th) all finished among the top 50, as the SA squad settled for ninth place in the team competition.

Nolene Conrad delivered a solid performance in the women’s 8km race, ending 36th in 29:05, with Kenya’s Agnes Tirop producing a dominant effort to secure a well-deserved victory in 26:02. Lebo Phalula (46th), 20-year-old Annie Bothma (48th), and SA 10km champion Lorraine Novela (62nd) completed the team performance, as they took 12 position overall.

Creel Chavalala was the top South African in the junior men’s race, grabbing 43rd spot in the 8km event in 26:03, after the squad had taken a knock in the build-up with national trials winner,Ikageng Gaorekwe, was left at home due to visa issues.

Simone Weitsz was the first SA athlete in the junior women’s 6km race, crossing the line in 57th place in 22:55.

The junior men’s and women’s teams finished 12th and 14th respectively.