Ramaala a king in New York

Ramatsiyi Moholoa

Ramatsiyi Moholoa

Top South African runner Hendrick Ramaala received a major boost this week ahead of Sunday's New York Marathon after he was honoured by the race organisers.

As part of the 50th anniversary celebrations of the marathon, Ramaala's nail-biting clash with Paul Tergat in the 2005 edition of the event was named the fourth greatest moment in the history of the race by fans, from a list of 15.

In that race, Ramaala was beaten by the Kenyan air force sergeant by three-hundredths of a second in a dramatic finish that made headlines globally.

The two African giants will battle it out again in the same marathon, which has been dominated by runners from the Mother Continent.

Defending champion and Tergat's compatriot, Martin Lel will also be competing.

Tergat, 39, a former world record holder, will make his return to competitive action after taking 18 months off to recharge his batteries.

Ramaala, 36, is the only man in the marathon's history to have recorded first, second and third place. He was first in 2004, second in 2005 and third last year. It will be the Wits University law graduate's seventh appearance in New York where he has proved a popular participant.

Mary Wittenberg, the race director, said: "We always want him [Ramaala] in this race. He epitomizes New York City and this event. He's rough, he's gritty, he gets in there, and that's the kind personality we like in New York."

"Expect fireworks because the big guns will be there. I'm ready and hoping for the best," said Ramaala, who left for New York on Sunday night.