Wesley Botton
Chief sports writer
1 minute read
17 Apr 2015
2:23 pm

Mokoka sets the early pace in Stellenbosch

Wesley Botton

Distance runner Stephen Mokoka produced the standout performance in the morning session at the SA Athletics Championships on Friday, coasting to victory in a solo effort in the men's 10 000m final in Stellenbosch.

FILE PIC: Stephen Mokoka (Photo by Luke Walker/Gallo Images)

Mokoka and Elroy Gelant had targeted the qualifying time of 27:45.00 for the World Championships in Beijing in August.  Strong winds kept the pace relatively modest, however, and Gelant pulled out in the early stages with a hamstring niggle, though he confirmed it was merely a precaution and he would run the 5 000m on Saturday.

Left on his own for most of the second half, Mokoka won his sixth national title over 25 laps in 28:15.56, more than half a minute clear of second-placed Sibusiso Nzima.

“It was too windy and then Elroy had a problem, so it didn’t work out,” Mokoka said.

“We’ll keep trying for the qualifying time because we have some races planned abroad later in the season.”

In other finals in the morning session, Lebo Phalula won the women’s 5 000m title (16:19.72), Rocco van Rooyen secured the men’s javelin throw gold medal (77.96m) and Marileze Vos bagged the women’s pole vault crown (3.50m).

Title favourites Akani Simbine (100m), Anaso Jobodwana (200m), LJ van Zyl (400m hurdles), Carina Horn (100m) and Caster Semenya (800m) all progressed safely through the heats of their respective events.