Tuesday, January 24, 2006

South African Angelina Sephooa Dead At 30

South African Angelina Sephooa Dead At 30
From David Monti
© 2005 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved RaceResultsWeekly.com
By Riel Hauman
Angelina Sephooa, one of Africa's best female ultramarathon runners, died yesterday (Sunday) at the age of 30 in her home country of Lesotho. Sephooa was one of only two women, and the most recent athlete, to score three consecutive victories in the Old Mutual Two Oceans ultramarathon.
According to a family friend, the runner died suddenly and the cause of death has not been determined. She had been struggling with health problems in the course of the past two years, but was training again and said recently that she "wanted to surprise everyone" in the Two Oceans this year, a 56 km race in Cape Town.
Sephooa was born Angelina Pitso on May 25, 1975 and won the Two Oceans in 1997 under her maiden name. The next year she returned after marrying Percy Sephooa, won again and then scored her hat trick in 1999. Only two other runners have achieved this feat: Siphiwe Gqele in 1983-1985 and Monica Drögemöller –-the only runner ever to win four times-– in 1990-1992.
Sephooa had a marathon career best time of 2:40:45, set in 1999 when she was second in the South African Marathon Championship. Her 1999 Two Oceans time of 3:38:09 is still the fifth fastest in the history of the event.
She returned to the Two Oceans in 2003 to finish seventh, while she placed sixth in 2004. Later that year she started complaining of chest pains, but planned to run the Two Oceans in 2005. However, she became ill again and was hospitalised. Tests could not find anything wrong, so she resumed training.
Her last major marathon was the 2004 Mumbai Marathon, in which she placed sixth in 2:52:20. The previous year she had been third in Stockholm in 2:43:28, second in the Soweto Marathon and second in the City to City 50 km (3:24:02). She was 11th in the 2002 Commonwealth Games Marathon and won the South African Marathon title in 1998, the same year in which she was also first the Soweto Marathon.
Sephooa is survived by her husband and an 8-year-old son, Tsepo.

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