Updated: February 13, 2015

South Africa will send a team brimming with experience, as the national men’s squad goes in search of the country’s first ever medal at the World Cross Country Championships in Guiyang, China, next month.
In the absence of Elroy Gelant, who made himself unavailable in order to focus on the track this season, Stephen Mokoka will spearhead a six-member team in the senior men’s 12km race, considered one of the toughest events in global distance running.
Mokoka will be well backed by the likes of training partners Precious Mashele and Gladwin Mzazi, who has shaken off a slight injury that kept him out of last month’s SA trials in Kagiso.
Perhaps the most surprising inclusion is 41-year-old Shadrack Hoff, who stunned athletes half his age to finish fifth at the trials, becoming the first veteran man to make the SA team to the World Cross Country Championships.
Mokoka and Hoff are the best ever SA performers in the senior men’s race, both previously finishing 15th at the international showpiece, and while Hoff achieved the feat 19 years ago, he offers invaluable experience to the squad.
Meanwhile, road specialist Nolene Conrad will lead the six-member SA team in the senior women’s 8km race.
She will be joined by the likes of rising star Annie Bothma, in her first year out of the junior ranks, and in-former athlete Lebo Phalula.
Athletics SA confirmed the junior men’s and women’s teams would compete at the Southern Region Championships in Malawi on February 22.
The entire 24-member squad would turn out at the global championships, to be held on March 28.

SA cross country team:

Senior men (12km): Precious Mashele, Stephen Mokoka, Gladwin Mzazi, Kgosi Tsosane, Shadrack Hoff, Bonginkosi Zwane. Non-travelling reserves: Samuel Matsepe, Silindile Gubese

Senior women (8km): Nolene Conrad, Annie Bothma, Lebo Phalula, Keneilwe Sesing, Mamphielo Sibanda, Lorraine Novela. Non-travelling reserves: Bulelwa Simae, Glenrose Xaba

Junior men (8km): Ikageng Gaorekwe, Rowhaldo Ratz, Creel Chavalala, Kabelo Melamu, Siyabonga Mabena, William Potgieter. Non-travelling reserves: Kemegelo Masemola, Xolisa Madi

Junior women (6km): Nicole van der Merwe, Hanli Etsebeth, Simone Weitz, Carina Viljoen, Jeanette Bokadi, Sheriline Gelderblom. Non-travelling reserves: Pamela Moyikwa, Tshegofatso Sethlakgoe

Wesley Botton says:

If athletes who did well at SA champs had a valid reason for not performing well at the trials (example, a doctor’s letter proving illness or injury) they would have been considered. Also, athletes had to compete at SA champs to be considered for selection, unless they provided a valid reason for not doing so