Distance runners Precious Mashele and Glenrose Xaba again showed their versatility, bursting clear of strong fields at Centurion to successfully defend their senior titles at the ASA Cross Country Championships on Saturday.
Producing dominant performances in the men's and women's 10km races respectively, Mashele and Xaba both retained their national crowns for the third year in succession. Mashele, who secured the 5 000m gold medal on the track at the ASA Sizwe Medical Fund & 3Sixty Life Senior Championships in Germiston in April, earned his second national title of the season.
Opening some distance on the rest of the field, he charged to a convincing victory for the Central Gauteng Athletics (CGA) team, completing the course in 29:38. He finished 12 seconds clear of 20-year-old Athletics Free State (AFS) star Pakiso Mthembu - who edged out another promising athlete Kabelo Seboko (CGA), to grab second place in 29:50. Seboko was credited with the same time at third position.
Xaba, who had previously shone on the track and the road this season by winning the national 10 000m and half-marathon titles, wrapped up an impressive 2019 treble across all three distance running disciplines.
Outclassing her opponents, the Athletics Gauteng North (AGN) star opened a massive gap on her opponents in the senior women's contest, pushing the pace up front as she stretched out the field.
Crossing the line in 34:25, she was 45 seconds ahead of perennial rival Kesa Molotsane (AFS), who took the runner-up spot in 35:10. Closing out the podium, Aynslee van Graan held on to take third position for the AGN squad, covering the course in 35:56.
In the U20 category, both races were won in similarly dominant fashion. Tayla Kavanaugh cruised to victory in the junior women's 6km event, clocking 21:08 in the colours of KwaZulu-Natal Athletics (KZNA). She was well ahead of Cara du Preez, who took second place in 21:46 for the Athletics Central North West (ACNW) team.
Though he was not as emphatic in taking the junior men's 8km title, Ngconde Matwebu (AFS) won gold in 24:22, with Phemelo Ntoe (CGA) snatching the silver medal in 24:34.
“This was a very successful event, which was very competitive and well attended,” said the President of ASA, Aleck Skhosana. “It was a great display of form by Glenrose and Precious.
“Cross country continues to draw good crowds and full number of participation. It’s fast becoming our mass participation event. It was also wonderful to see sub-youth athletes showing absolute competitiveness. With the programme structured in such a way that sub-youth are included, it allows to see development alongside the wing of the elite.”
Issued By ASA