Lebogang throws down the gauntlet to her foes

Linda Moreotsene

Linda Moreotsene

Lebogang Phalula, the 800m race winner of the Yellow Pages Ultimate Athletics held on Friday night in Potchefstroom, has challenged her competitors, including her sister Lebo, to beat her on the track this year.

With her twin sister Lebo out of contention because of an Achilles heel injury, Lebogang easily cruised to a 2:05:54 win - her second win in the series - after also taking the top spot in Secunda two weeks ago.

Phalula led the race from the start, a move she said she was unhappy about.

"I was supposed to stay behind and let someone else lead the race. Maybe I would have run a better time if I had stuck to my tactics. Having said that, I feel great, and I challenge anyone to try and beat me.

"I know it will be much tougher at the South African Championships, my next stop after the Port Elizabeth Challenge. Lebo has been saying she would have beaten me if she was in the race but I am ready for her too," Phalula said.

She was followed home by University of Johannesburg (UJ) runner Mapaseka Makhanya and Marlene Breytenbach of Pretoria University.

Makhanya, who is using the races as a way of qualifying for the World Student Games in Thailand later this year, was happy with her time of 2:07:60.

"I am getting closer to 2:05, which is the qualifying time for the Student Games. I did not over exert myself, so obviously something is working for me. My time in Sasolburg two weeks ago was 2:09, and the improvement is quite significant," Makhanya said.

Phalula's Wanderers clubmate, Tshamano Setone, won the 3000m race, after a mouthwatering duel with Mbongeni Ngxazozo of Harmony Athletics.

"In the last lap, Setone shook off Ngxazozo with 350m to go, sprinting the rest of the way to finish at 8:03:28. UJ's Ruben Ramolefi came third.

Another notable victory was that of young TUKS athlete Thabo Mathibedi, who won the 400m event. Mathibedi, a future prospect, is primarily a 100m and 200m athlete and was racing in the event for the first time.