Dombojena, Naigambo thrill athletics fanatics

Mcelwa Nchabeleng

Mcelwa Nchabeleng

The people of Phalaborwa just love athletics.

They demonstrated their sheer enthusiasm of the sport when they came in throngs to spur more than 1 000 marathoners on when they took part in the Foskor Half-Marathon at the Namakgale township just outside the mining town of Phalaborwa on Saturday.

This despite the fact that the race had not been staged for the past three years because of financial constraints.

It was encouraging for the runners to see the residents of Namakgale, young and old, singing and dancing by the road as they sweat it out for honours.

The township literally came to a standstill as runners battled it out for the R21 000 first prize money in both the men and women's categories.

Portipher Dombojena from Zimbabwe won the men's title in a one-sided race when he came home in the time of 1hr:03min:27sec.

On the women's front, Beata Naigambo, 27, of Namibia, took the women's laurels in 1:16:15.

Dombojena made his intentions of winning the race clear when he left the chasing bunch from the 7km mark and never looked back.

His determination to triumph also saw him overcome the ardous Makhushane's steep hill as he showed the pretenders a clean pair of heels.

"I'm thrilled to be the winner today and my success will go a long way in motivating me to do well in my next races," Dombojena, said after the race.

The 24-year-old, a clerk at the Hwange Colliery in Hwange in Zimbabwe, said he was looking forward to defending his title next year. Naigambo, was equally ecstatic after winning.

"I will invest the money I won today towards my child's education and I'm looking forward to coming here to defend my title next year," she said.

Enos Matalana and Kudawashe Shoko came second and third on 1:03:50 and 1:04:04 in the men's category, respectively.

Judy Kimuge finished second on 1:18:23 and Moleboheng Mafata came third on 1:19:05 in the women's category.