Louisa Leballo made a startling comeback on Sunday, stunning the country’s top distance runners as she stormed to a surprise victory at the opening leg of the Spar Women’s Grand Prix 10km series in Cape Town.
The 39-year-old athlete returned to competitive racing late last season after being sidelined for four years with injuries to both knees, and she proved she was back to her best in the Mother City, charging across the line in 32:58.
She chopped 31 seconds off her personal best which had been set more than 13 years ago.
“I never thought I would win today because I was sick this week,” Leballo said.
“The race started fast but this was my first Spar 10km in Cape Town, so I just had to go with the pace, but it was ok in the end.”
In a hard-fought battle, in-form athlete Kesa Molotsane took second place in a sprint for the line, covering the new course in 32:59 in her series debut.
Molotsane, who finished 36th at the World Cross Country Championships in Kampala last week (three places behind Leballo), ripped more than two minutes off her career record set in Benoni in January.
“I’ve had two hectic races in the past seven days but it turned out perfectly,” Molotsane said.
“It’s always nice to run at the coast and I’m very pleased with the way it went today.”
Defending series champion Irvette van Zyl, who did much of the front running throughout the race, took third position in 33:07.