Lebo Phalula has announced her immediate retirement from international athletics in favour of local races, starting with the RACE TO EQUALITY that will be held on Saturday 12 March 2022, at the Marks Park Sports Complex in Emmarentia, Johannesburg.
The race organisers are pleased to announce the extension of the online registrations to Wednesday night, 9 March 2022. Manual registrations will remain opened, and participants are encouraged to make their way to Marks Park on Thursday (10 March) and Friday (11 March).
Phalula, the 36 year-old 2016 Olympian, wants to make way for youngsters and focus on different races in the country to make money. Phalula said she relied on her monthly stipend from the Boxer Running Club during the Covid-19 national lockdown.
The Soweto-born middle-distance runner who became the first South African black woman to qualify for the marathon at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, noted her motivation is that South African road races are starting to pay runners good money and she wants to make as much money as she can while time is still on her side.
“We did not have many races due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and I am happy to see the races coming back, and racing week in and week out will help us make money to sustain our livelihoods. I abandoned my plans to qualify for the Commonwealth Games marathon and decided to call it a day,” said an excited Phalula.
The first man and woman to cross the finishing line will pocket R21 000 each in the half-marathon, and the second-place finishers get R15 000 each, with the third-place finishers settling for R12.5k each.
“The prize money looks good, and with that money I feel motivated to do well on race day. I am in good shape and looking forward to the RACE TO EQUALITY. Races are starting to open up, and I am excited that there is funding for races here in South Africa.”
“My retirement from international competitions means that I do not have to go through the stress of visas and long hours of traveling overseas, and I am not getting any younger. So, I think I should stay.”
“The time for me to stop representing my country has come. I’ve had fun and it is time to leave and give youngsters space to fulfill their dreams. I wish to see youngsters coming through the ranks and make us proud, and leaving means I am opening the door for someone. The Olympic Games were my best achievement. I trained for it since I was a child. My hope is to see another black woman representing the country in the marathon and so I plan to groom youngsters and encourage them to follow their dreams of representing their country.”