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  • Writer's pictureCharles Baloyi

'Be careful when returning to competition' - Seme

Athletics SA (ASA) granted athletes the green light to train and compete again. There’s excitement everywhere as track meets return and athletes hit the road again. But prominent coach Michael “Sponge” Seme warned athletes not to get caught up in the excitement of returning to the track and maintain a cool head.

Bra Sponge in action trackside.

The World Athletics Level 5 accredited coach guides top runners such as Stephen Mokoka, Glenrose Xaba, and Collen Mulaudzi at his famous Sponge training group in Tshwane. The man, who discovered multiple Olympic champion Caster Semenya, dished out a piece of advice to runners that are itching to return to the track. “Don’t overdo it. Don’t do anything that you might regret tomorrow. Take it easy and work on your conditioning first. Don't push too hard. I see there is excitement everywhere, but that can also be a dangerous thing. Too much excitement can kill you and have a serious effect on your career,” Seme warned.

Members of the Sponge Group from left to right Glenrose Xaba, Stephen Mokoka and Collen Mulaudzi all represented South Africa at the World Half Marathon Championships in Poland last month.

Last week, ASA officially re-opened the season, but stressed that any region that wants to hold events must follow the Covid-19 guidelines as set-out by the government. Bra Sponge emphasized the importance of taking it one day at a time in order to avoid injury. “Some have gained weight, while others were disciplined during the lockdown. I suggest that starting with a 10km run daily in the morning and a few gym sessions later is the way to go. The bodies of athletes are not the same, and some take a while to get into their stride. It is important to have a balanced diet. If one follows a strict training programme for a month, everything will go according to plan,” stressed Seme.

Coach Michael "Sponge" Seme (centre) flanked by 1992 New York Marathon Champion Willie Mtolo and the Thobile and Thulisile Amon. The Amon twins are in US at Monroe College in New York on an athletics scholarship.

The University of Pretoria’s High-Performance Centre that boasts world-class training facilities is now open for elite athletes to train. The likes of Gift Leotlela and Clarence Munyai shared their excitement about returning to the track. “ I have forgotten the smell of the track. I would give anything to run again. I can’t wait to compete again,” said Munyai.   HPC CEO Toby Sutcliffe said they are following the Covid-19 guidelines to screen and regularly test their athletes for Covid-19.  “ Everyone that enters our premises gets screened and sanitize,” he said.    

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