Athletics 11.5.2017 02:09 pm

The Kenyan pretender to Stephen Mokoka’s throne

Stephen Mokoka. Photo: Roger Sedres/Gallo Images.

Stephen Mokoka. Photo: Roger Sedres/Gallo Images.

Morris Munene Gachaga, winner of the Paris half-marathon, is hoping to dash a strong local contingent’s dream in Cape Town.

Kenyan challenger Morris Munene Gachaga hopes to overcome a powerful local onslaught led by defending champion Stephen Mokoka at the FNB OneRun 12km road race in Cape Town next week.

Gachaga, who beat compatriot Paul Lonyangata in a late sprint in March to win the Paris Half-Marathon in 1:00:38, was included in the elite men’s field announced on Thursday for the third edition of the annual contest through the streets of the Mother City.

“I know the route is flat, fast and conducive to good racing, so I will make sure I am in good shape come race day,” Gachaga said in a statement.

“I know it won’t be easy with Mokoka in the race. He always makes it tough, but I am confident that I can do well.”

Aside from Mokoka, the national 10km and 15km record holder, the line-up also featured former SA half-marathon champion Lucky Mohale, local tack star Elroy Gelant, in-form Namakoe Nkhasi of Lesotho, and Ethiopian teenager Walelign Belachew.

At last year’s OneRun race, Mokoka edged out Kenyan Daniel Salel to win in 33:34, missing the world best by three seconds and shattering Matthews Motshwarateu’s 28-year-old SA best by 52 seconds over the rarely run distance, while Gelant produced a brave fight to finish third.

“I want to defend my title… it is important for me to make sure the title stays in South Africa,” Mokoka said.

The 12km contest, offering a R200 000 prize purse, was scheduled to be held on May 21, and the elite women’s field was expected to be unveiled closer to the race.

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