Lebogang Shange missed out by a mere second on equalling the South African record he set earlier this season when on Saturday at the IAAF 20km Race Walk in La Coruna, Spain he finished 11th in a time of 1 hour 21 minutes and 51 seconds. The competition was dominated by the athletes from China. Wang Zhan was the winner in 1:18:00, Chen Ding was second in 1:18:44 and Cai Zelin third in 1:19:45.
Judging by Shange’s performances in international races so far this season, he is definitely not afraid of taking on the world’s best. In Lugano, Switzerland, he finished second and broke the SA record (1:21:50) and in Dudinska he won the IAAF Race Walk Challenge. Before Saturday’s race the Tuks/HPC athlete said: ‘Although I won’t win, the other athletes will certainly know that they have raced against me. I will be racing with an attitude of fearlessness.’
Shange’s aim was to finish the race in a time of 1 hour 20 minutes. He says: ‘If I can break 1:20 it will mean that I will be on track to walk a time of 1 hour 19 minutes at the World Championships in Beijing.’ According to Chris Britz (coach) Saturday’s race was definitely Shange’s toughest international race so far because he raced against some of the best race walkers.
The weather conditions were quite hot and windy, which also made for tough racing. He says: ‘Our goal is for Lebogang to finish in the top ten finish at the World Championships in Beijing.’ Depending on how quickly he recovers from Saturday’s race, Shange might compete in a race in Lithuania on Friday.
His next major goal will be to break the SA 20 000m record at Britain’s National Outdoor Championships in Bedford on 21 June. The record (1:24:51) was set by Stanley Valentine in 1989.
Marc Mundell (Tuks/HPC) finished 44th in the same race on Saturday in a time of 1:26:34.
Anel Oosthuizen finished 20th in the women’s race in a time of 1:39:05. China’s Liu Hong broke the women’s 20km race walk world record with a time of 1:24:38.
Photo credit: Reg Caldecott