The late athletics icon, Gabashane Vincent Rakabaele last weekend received a post-humus honour from the Vincent Rakabaele Athletics Institute (VRAI) in a bid to preserve his remarkable legacy.
On the month he would be celebrating his 75th birthday if he was still alive, VRAI unveilled a tombstone of Rakabaele in Ha Rakabaele, Berea district on September 10 this year.
Born on September 3, 1948, Rakabaele was the first African to win the Two Oceans Ultra Marathon in Cape Town in 1976.
He was also the first African to earn a Comrades Ultra-Marathon Medal in 1975 after the race was open to all non-whites.
The Great Rakabaele also ran and won the South African Non-White Marathon Championship, the fastest ever marathon on the African continent after the Legendary Abebe Bikila’s fastest time in the Tokyo Olympics of 1964 and one of the fastest in the world, thus ranking him number 21 in the world rankings with 2:12:33.
He is believed to have amassed a total of nine ultra-marathon (56 kilometres long) gold medals during his outstanding running career, which was mostly based in South Africa.
Rakabaele passed on in 2003 after falling ill.
“As part of our efforts to preserve his legacy, VRAI will be unveiling a tombstone of Mr Rakabaele through the initiative that was informed by his contribution in athletics sport, both in Lesotho and South Africa respectively,” VRAI said in a statement.
“This unveiling is hosted in celebration of his legacy, an individual whose dedication, resilience and contribution to the world of athletics have left an indelible mark beyond the borders of Africa.”
VRAI is partnering with Thari Mutual, Pootso Memorials, Total Sports Two Oceans Ultra Marathon, Studioplex Consulting, Thulani Sibisi and many other good Samaritans in the initiative, while the Federation Athletics of Lesotho has endorsed the event.
The tombstone unveiling is expected to be attended by government officials, the sporting fraternity and community leaders among others.
The long-distance runner also represented Lesotho in the 1980 Moscow Olympics in Russia and the Los Angeles Olympics in the United States of America in 1984.