‘Tjoka back to her best’

‘Tjoka back to her best’

Maseru – Lesotho Amateur Athletics Association (LAAA) public relations officer Sejanamane Maphathe is confident ‘Mamoroallo Tjoka is getting back to her best after missing two years of action because of a doping ban.

The marathon star made her comeback to the track earlier this year and on Sunday won the Mandela Day Marathon in South Africa with an impressive time of 2:48:49 hours.

Tjoka, who was running the race for the first time, topped a strong field that included Ethiopia’s Selam Abere Alebachew who finished second, Zimbabwe’s Loveness Madziva, third, and home favourite Charné Bosman who came fifth.

Maphathe said Tjoka has run and won several smaller races in South Africa since her return but Sunday’s victory in Pietermaritzburg was her biggest of 2017.

He said he believes Tjoka’s two-year absence from the limelight has strengthened her and made her hungrier for success.

“As the association we believe she is on the right track to reclaim her dominance in the international races,” Maphathe said.

Tjoka together with fellow runner Ramolefi Motsieloa tested positive to testosterone enhancers after the High Altitude Summer Marathon in 2014 and were handed two-year bans. Both runners have since made their returns to competition.

Tjoka’s first race after her absence was the Sasol Half Marathon in the Free State in February. She is a record five-time winner of the Soweto Marathon and competed at the Olympic Games in 2008 and 2012. Tjoka was Lesotho’s flag bearer at the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics.

“We are happy with Tjoka’s performance and we believe she is back to her old self,” Maphathe said.

“It looks like the two years she spent away really helped her find focus and work really hard. Now she is doing well.”

Tjoka called her Mandela Day Marathon debut “very challenging” and she credited her preparation for Sunday’striumph.

“This win did not come easy, it all came with hard work,” she said. “I trained very hard for this race. You need to train very hard and give yourself plenty of time to train.”

Luciah Phahla


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