JOHANNESBURG – Nick Bester believes South Africa has the perfect mix of athletes in the IAU 50km World Championship squad to have good reason to expect a gold medal haul.
Bester will manage the 12 member squad of six men and six women that will battle it out for global honours in Romania on September 1.
“I have seen that the other countries have picked up squads made up of a lot of 100km specialists. But I believe that is not what you need for this one. That is why we went for runners who have very good marathon times and those who have proven themselves in the 50 and 56 kilometre races. And I believe we can win gold with the men – both individually and as a team.”
The men’s team has very fast marathon runners in the likes of Lungile Gongqa as well as David Gatebe – both of whom have previously won the 56km Two Oceans Marathon. This year’s winner Bongmusa Mthembu is also in the squad.
The other three men who will be out to help South Africa reign supreme are 50km specialist Charles Tjiane, who has won the Loskop Marathon for three successive years; 2019 Om Die Dam Ultra (50km) champion Joseph Manyedi and Comrades winner Edward Mothibi.
Bester is similarly confident that the women’s team they will be taking to the championship is good enough for a podium finish.
“For the ladies team we also have a good balance with most of our team very good in the marathons. Tanith Maxwell in particular is looking forward to the event as she has been out of action for a while.”
Maxwell is in a team that includes veteran Salome Cooper who – along with late entrant Fikile Mbuthuma – was part of Team SA at the 100km World Champs in Croatia last year.
Also in the women’s squad Deanne Horn (12th placed female finisher at Comrades and was also in Croatia) as well as Yolande McClean and Ntombesintu Mfunzi.