Former Olympic marathon runner Lungile Gongqa carried the South African men's squad to victory on Sunday, producing a superb performance in the individual category at the IAU 50km World Championships in Brasov, Romania.
Gongqa, who won the 2017 Two Oceans 56km race in Cape Town, held on in the latter stages of the ultra-distance battle to take second place overall, securing the silver medal in 2:48:26. Spaniard, Iraitz Arrospide took the gold in 2:47:42.
Comrades Marathon champion, Edward Mothibi finished fifth in 2:49:49 and Bongmusa Mthembu - a former silver medallist at the 2018 IAU 100km World Championships, was sixth overall in 2:50:23.
Further back, Joseph Manyedi finished 11th in 2:51:46, while Comrades’ down run record holder David Gatebe ended 21st in 3:02:43 and Charles Tjiane finished 30th in 3:07:16.
The SA men's squad produced a dominant all-round effort to win gold in the team competition.
In the women's race, Yolande Maclean led the SA squad to fifth place in the team competition.
Maclean crossed the line in 17th spot in 3:28:47, with British athlete Alyson Dixon winning gold in 3:07:20.
Ntombesintu Mfunzi finished 34th in 3:44:23, former standard marathon specialist Tanith Maxwell ended 37th in 3:45:32, Fikile Mbuthuma took 39th place in 3:47:15 and Salome Brits was 46th in 3:53:04.
“We applaud the team for delivering on its mandate. We demanded podium finishes in individual and team level and it has happened.
“To be honest, it would have been hard to swallow if the team I described as the best ever selected had failed. So, this achievement is in line with our sentiment that ultra-mathons are our speciality. Well done guys, you have done us proud,” said Aleck Skhosana, the President of Athletics South Africa.