Gutsy front runner Precious Mashele put up a brave fight against full strength East African teams, producing the best performance by the South African squad at the World Cross Country Championships in Aarhus on Saturday.
Mashele, the national champion, completed the brutal 10km course in 33:05, taking 16th position.
While he was more than a minute off the pace of Ugandan winner Joshua Cheptegei (31:40), he delivered a superb performance, with only accomplished compatriots Shadrack Hoff and Stephen Mokoka (who both finished 15th) having previously achieved better results in the senior men’s race at the biennial global championships.
The SA women’s team, meanwhile, struggled against the international elite, with Dom Scott-Efurd pulling out in the latter stages of the race.
Versatile athlete Kesa Molotsane was the best of the small squad, finishing in 67th position.
And while they were unable to challenge for medals, the SA junior men’s and women’s teams did well to finish fifth in the team competitions of their respective events, spearheaded by Prudence Sekgodiso who was 20th in the girls’ 6km race and Robert de Villiers who was 27th in the boys’ 8km battle.