Long Distance Runner
Stephen Mokoka is one of South Africa’s top long distance runners and is proving that he has the mettle to make his mark.
Starting his international career as a student in 2005 he took on the 10 000m distance, but has since competed in the marathon, half marathon and 10 000m distances with excellent results.
In his second year in competition he won back-to-back South African Universities titles in 2006 and 2007 in the 10 000m.
In particular he has stamped his name on the Two Oceans half marathon and has won it several times: in 2009, 2013 and again this year.
His best performance over the marathon distance was the fourth place he achieved at the Shanghai marathon in 2012, the same year he represented the SA team at the Olympics, where his credible 49th place was the beginning of his Olympic career.
Mokoka is no stranger to the World Athletic Championships either. In April this year he improved on his previous personal best at the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships with 11 seconds: 1:00:46 – faster than his best time at the Two Oceans but he remains confident that he will continue to improve on his personal best over this distance.
Mokoka is a runner who thrills spectators as he often serves up a sprint finish – as at the 10 mile Great Sun Run in England in 2009, when he came second with but a second between him and the winner, and in the 2013 Two Oceans Half Marathon when he overtook the front runner in the last 800m and sprinted to a brilliant win, much to the enjoyment of those watching the thrilling finish.
Mokoka’s international medal count is for the 10 000m distance though with his best performance (gold medal) thus far last year at the 2013 Universiade in Kazan, Russia. At the same meeting he received a silver medal in the half marathon.
However, the half marathon distance seems to be his choice, and he is currently aiming to be in the marathon team for the Rio Olympics in 2016. — Ilse Ferreira