The 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games athlete, Tshepang Sello from Lesotho, crossed the line first in the 8 km for women at the University Sports South Africa (USSA) cross-country championships in East London on Friday. This came as a surprise as Sello, who runs for and studies at the Kovsies is a specialist 800m athlete.
The 21-year-old had to pull out all the stops to beat the current SA junior cross-country champion and teammate, the 19-year-old Tyler Beling (Kovsies), by eight seconds to claim gold and silver for the Kovsies. Their respective times were 28:14 and 28:22. Jessica Pollock (University of Cape Town, 29:18) had to settle for third. The third Kovsie in the race, Lizandré Mulder, finished ninth in 31:32 and this was good enough for the Kovsies to win the 8-km team competition comfortably.
Comparing Sello’s winning time in the 8 km to the winning time in the 4km race for women, she ran at a faster pace over twice the distance than the winner of the 4 km, Carina Swiegers (University of Pretoria, 14:11). Swiegers had a hard time to force yet another Kovsie, Marné Mentz, into second place in the 4 km (14:13). Liza Kellerman (University of Johannesburg) was not far off the pace and finished third in 14:17. The Kovsies finished third in the team competition in the 4km race.
The Kovsies’ men managed to finish in a respectable third place in the team competition in the 10km race.
On Saturday the USSA teams ran in the relay races with the women competing in a much faster 3 x 2-km event. They had three excellent track athletes (Sello, Beling and Mentz) in their team. Their time for the 6 km was a brisk 20:16 and that left second placed University of Johannesburg (20:27) grasping for air. The University of Pretoria finished third in 20:35.
The relay for men was run in a 4 x 4km format and although the Kovsies men finished third out of 23 teams, their total time of 48:26 was way off the pace of the victorious University of Johannesburg (47:47). Tshwane University of Technology bagged silver in 48:04. – RUFUS BOTHA