ASA SQUAD GO ALL OUT

SOUTH African marathon runner Olebogeng Masire says he is looking forward to representing his country with verve at the IAAF World-Half Marathon Championships in England next month.

SOUTH African marathon runner Olebogeng Masire says he is looking forward to representing his country with verve at the IAAF World-Half Marathon Championships in England next month.

Masire is among a nine-member Athletics South Africa (ASA) squad that was named yesterday for the championships, which will be held in Birmingham, United Kingdom on October 11.

But ASA will eliminate one of the athletes from the men's squad, trimming it to five.

The women's squad comprises three athletes.

"I'm aware that ASA will eliminate one member but I'm not nervous. If it happens to be me, I will still travel with the team as a reserve and this is still a motivation for me," Masire told Sowetan yesterday.

"I was told (yesterday) that I had been selected and I'm over the moon about my selection. It is good for me that I took part in the 12km race in Pretoria over the weekend where I finished 16th.

"It is important for us to compete in as many races as possible to prepare ourselves adequately for England."

But Masire and his compatriots will need to pull out all the stops to prevail in England, where they will be up against the world's best marathon runners.

Masire felt the competitiveness of the race when he finished at a lowly 52nd spot in the same event in Italy in 2007.

Poppy Mlambo, who is one of the three women selected, said she was confident of doing well in Birmingham.

"Preparations have been going well and I'm looking forward to representing my country well in England," Mlambo said.

She also said that all the women selected will make the country proud.

"Between myself, Rene (Kalmer) and Annerien (van Schalkwyk) I think we have a strong team," Mlambo added.

Team SA comprises:

Men: - Stephen Mokoka, Xolisa Tyali, Mbongeni Ngxazozo, Jeffrey Gwebu, Lindikhaya Mthangayi, Masire.

Women - Mlambo, Van Schalkwyk, Kalmer.

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