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Athletics | Running

Lebo Phalula © Gallo images

Tough competition expected at Cross Country trials

The biggest field to date will line up at the Boksburg Stadium on Saturday, 26 January for the annual Cross Country trials. Athletes will challenge the provisional ASA squad for a spot in the team for the Southern Region Cross Country Championships in Lesotho on 3 March as well as the World Cross Country Championships taking place in Poland on 24 March.

This year, a total of 231 athletes will battle it out in the field, a significant increase from previous years. Only 148 athletes competed in 2012. Two years ago, the year in which the previous World Cross Country Championships took place, only 180 entries were received. According to the Athletics South Africa president, James Evans, this is a very good sign. “There is a great interest in being selected to represent South Africa internationally and cross country is alive and healthy,” said Evans.

Lebo Phalula is amongst the athletes in the ASA squad that will take to the cross country field on Saturday morning to battle it out for a spot in the team. And she knows that she will have to work hard to secure her place. “Because I don’t know how many athletes they are picking for the team, my aim is to finish in the top 3,” said Lebo Phalula.

The 29 year-old 2011 SA Cross Country Champion has a lot of experience as she has been selected to compete internationally a number of times. At senior level, Phalula represented South Africa at World Championships in 2009, 2010 and 2011 and the Africa Championships in 2011 and 2012. Her best performance at a World Championships was in 2010 in Poland where she finished 22nd.

The strongest competition should come from the ASA squad, but with so many athletes competing, anything can happen on the day. Other familiar faces amongst the senior women include Christine Kalmer (1500m, 3000m and 5000m track athlete), Tebogo Masehla (3000m steeplechase SA record holder) and Portia Ngwenya (3000m, 5000m and 10 000m track athlete) to name a few.

The trials are open to local and international athletes hoping to challenge athletes in the ASA squad as well as those looking to test their fitness levels. Individual entries will be accepted on the morning of the trials at a cost of R30 per athlete.

Two years ago a team was selected that finished fifth overall at the World Cross Country Championships in Punta Umbria in Spain and all spectators are invited to come and witness our world class athletes in action on the day. Entrance is free.

Program for the Day:

09:30 Open Men’s Trials 12km
10:10 Open Women’s Trials 8km
10:45 Junior Men’s Trials (born 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996) 8km
11:20 Junior Women’s Trials (born 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996) 6km


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