APRIL LEADS SA MARATHON MEN IN RIO

 
Updated: August 21, 2016

Lusapho April, seen here competing at the 2012 London Games, finished 24th in Rio

Lusapho April was the best of the SA athletes in action on Sunday, taking 24th position in the men’s marathon as the national team’s Olympic campaign came to an end in Rio de Janeiro.

The 34-year-old runner from the Eastern Cape, competing in his second Olympic race over the classic 42km distance, fought hard with compatriot Sibusiso Nzima in the first half to maintain touch with a large lead pack.

After losing ground in the closing stages, however, April finished in 2:15:24, more than six minutes behind Kenyan winner Eliud Kipchoge (2:08:44).

Nzima held on to cross the line in 97th position in 2:25:33.

Lungile Gongqa, who faded in the early stages, was unable to complete the race.

“I lost contact and I was feeling comfortable, because I was 10 or 15 seconds behind before the 30km mark, which was still ok,” said April, who admitted he battled in the humid conditions.

“After that I started pushing and I just lost it.”

The SA athletics team earned four medals at the Games, with 400m sprinter Wayde van Niekerk and 800m star Caster Semenya securing gold, and long jumper Luvo Manyonga and javelin thrower Sunette Viljoen returning home with silver.

The athletics contingent contributed the most medals of all codes to the national squad’s record 10-medal haul at the showpiece, which included two gold, six silver and two bronze.