Nkoka guns for Olympic glory

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Mikia Kalati

Marathon ace Lebenya Nkoka is looking for a barnstorming debut at this year’s Olympic Games.

The 33-year-old says he wants to run his way into the history books by becoming the first local athlete to win a medal at the multisport showcase set for Brazil in August.

Nkoka is among five athletes who have booked their places at the Games alongside sprinter Mosito Lehata, marathoner Tšepo Mathibelle and boxers Inkululeko Suntele and Moroke Mokhotho.

After winning the star-studded Two Oceans Marathon in Cape Town two years ago, Nkoka believes if he assumes the same winning mentality, he would reign supreme in Brazil.

“I never thought I would one day count winning the Two Oceans marathon among my successes, but I did it in 2014, beating some of the region’s top runners in the process,” Nkoka said.

“It was not easy, but I believed in my ability. I had come close previously but eventually won it when I was about to give up that dream. I will carry the same spirit to Brazil and hopefully, it will work wonders for me.

“I know it will be a completely different setup to the races I am used to in South Africa, but I’m working hard to make a name for myself on this bigger stage.”

Nkoka, who also won the High Altitude Summer Marathon in 2014, also said it would be an honour for him to represent his country at such a big sporting event.

“I have been hard at work because I’m looking forward to representing the country at such a big sporting event which is a dream for any athlete.

“I would have loved to run in one or two competitions abroad before the Olympics, but I think it might be a bit late for that now.

“But like I said, I have come up against top runners in South African races so I know what to expect in Brazil.

“I still have a few competitions coming up in South Africa but they will be half-marathons to keep me in shape as I don’t need to overdo things and risk getting injured,” he said.

The last time Nkoka represented the country at a major sporting competition was the Commonwealth Games of 2006, where he however failed to win any medal.

“I now know better about planning for a race which is why I am confident of doing well in Brazil,” Nkoka said.

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