Lebopo still going strong  

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Mikia Kalati

Veteran runner Mabuthile Lebopo says he is not finished yet and is still fit enough to compete for major titles.

The 40-year-old came fourth in the Two Oceans Marathon held in Cape Town last Saturday, but believes his age had nothing to do with the result.

Lebopo won the Cape Town race in 2010, and said he was hoping to grab his second title on Saturday and the M250 000 winner’s cheque.

“It is all about believing in yourself and that was the case with me on Saturday at the Two Oceans marathon,” Lebopo said this week.

“There are runners older than me who compete at a much higher level and these  inspire me each time I see them in action.

“For me, it is not about age, but being passionate about what I do for a living. I never think about my age but just focus on training for the job at hand.

“Like I said, I’m still feeling very fit and good enough to run for at least another two years.

“I think my body will tell me when the time has come to retire. But for now, I’m embracing this sport with a smile, the way it has been for me over the years.”

Meanwhile, Motlokoa Nkhabutlane who failed to defend his Two Oceans title on Saturday said he was still happy to get third position and the M65 000 prize money.

Nkhabutlane completed the race in three hours, six minutes and 22 seconds while the winner, Mike Fokoroni of Zimbabwe romped home in three hours,13 minutes and 33 seconds and runner-up and compatriot Collen Makaza crossed the line in three hours,14 minutes and 45 seconds.

“I was so scared before the race and maybe it had to do with the fact that I was the defending champion,” Nkhabutlane said.

“It is never easy in this competition especially going into the race as title-holder. Because you are the defending champion, every runner is targeting you, but I’m happy with how things went.

“Yes, I would have wanted to win the race again, but it is very competitive and if you look at the statistics, you will see that no athlete has managed to defend it since 2010.”

The 30-year-old said he also wanted to use the race to qualify for the Olympic Games set for Brazil in August this year.

“I have been working hard because apart from defending my Two Oceans title, I wanted to qualify for the Olympic Games but things did not go according to plan,” said Motlokoa.

“I will now go back to the drawing board and see which races I will run next. But for now, I’m happy to have been among the top four runners in the 2016 Two Oceans marathon.”

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