Stephen Mokoka shattered his 42km personal best on Sunday, taking second place at the Shanghai Marathon in China.
The versatile distance runner, aiming for his third straight win in Shanghai, took second place in 2:07:40 and became the fifth South African to dip under the 2:08:00 barrier. He improved his five year-old career best by 53 seconds and missed Gert Thys’ national record by 67 seconds.
Kenyan athlete Paul Kipchumba won the race in 2:07:14, breaking the course record of 2:08:43 set by Mokoka last year.
“The conditions were good and it’s my best time, so I’m happy with my performance,” Mokoka said.
Mokoka became the fourth South African man, after Lungile Gqonqa (2:11:59), Michael Mazibuko (2:12:29) and Sibusiso Nzima (2:15:38) to qualify for the marathon at next year’s Rio Olympics, though he confirmed he intended to run the 10 000m on the track at the Games.
Mapaseka Makhanya, meanwhile, finished fourth in Shanghai, though South African media were still trying to confirm her time by Sunday afternoon.
Makhanya’s management team said she had dipped under the 2:42:00 Olympic qualifying standard, joining Lebo Phalula as the only SA women to have achieved the mark with eight months remaining before the Games.
The official results of the women’s race, however, were not yet available, aside from the podium finishers.
The athlete who finished third in Shanghai, Ethiopia’s Rahma Tusa, clocked 2:33:57, indicating Makhanya was well outside her 2:31:02 personal best.
Kenyan athlete Nguriatukei Kiyara won the race in 2:26:33