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  • Writer's pictureMosibodi Whitehead

'Coach Best is the one' - Waterfall AC's Seloyi claims 21st position at World Cross Country Champs

Of all of the athletes that represented South Africa in the senior men and women's race at the world Cross Country Championships in Belgrade, Serbia yesterday, only one runs for an amateur club. Eight of the twelve men and women belong to professional clubs such as the Boxer Athletic Club or the Nedbank Running Club, three are members of elite athlete development clubs such as universities or academies (e.g. Athletes Academy), meaning just one of the country's amateur athletes was able to make the grade.


Selyoi and Ngwenya together after success at the Motsepe Race to Equality incorporating the ASA 10km Championships. Seloyi was chosen to represent Central Gauteng Athletics at the 10km championships after winning the PPS Alberton Athletic Club 10km last November. Photo Credit: Supplied.

But Waterfall Athletic Club's Bennet Seloyi not only made the grade, he produced the best finish as he secured 21st position in the senior men's race, finishing in 29:20 which was less than 90 seconds behind winner Jacob Kiplimo of Uganda. The man who was crowned national 10km champion three weeks ago when he finished second behind the disqualified Mathews Leeto says that event at Marks Park confirmed to him that he was ready to deliver a good performance on his first senior outing to the World Cross Country Championships.


"That's where I saw that my fitness is coming along well because we decided to run the Motsepe Race to Equality to test and see if we are ready for the Worlds," he told #TheTopRunner. "I have always wanted to run with the top runners but my problem is that I use to focus too much on speed and didn't do enough mileage. So when I started adding mileage I started seeing a big difference. I could run with them and kick. I had to gain more experience and I have learnt."


Ngwenya poses with South Africa's senior men's World Cross Country Championships team at the Or Tambo International Airport before their departure for Serbia. Photo Credit: Supplied.

For helping him to polish his talent by shifting his training focus to a mileage based approach, the 23-year-old from Thembisa credits his coach Best Ngwenya. Although largely unknown to many, those who know their Gauteng elite athletes well will tell you that Ngwenya was a decent performer over the marathon who trained alongside Comrades Marathon gold medalist Ludwick Mamabolo during his heyday when he called the Barnard Stadium in Kempton Park home. The man who took 20th position at last year's Sanlam Cape Town Marathon in 2:18:01 running in the colours of Maxed Elite says he has seen a lot of changes since he started working with Ngwenya three years ago.


"Coach Best is the one who has made the difference because I have been with him since 2021. He saw where I'm struggling and what should be done so that I can compete. He saw that I could be a top runner. But I've had to be disciplined and listen to what he says. Now I can see the changes and that his method is working. I'm also grateful to my training partners at the United Training Group for their faith in me."


Click HERE to view the full results for the 45th World Cross Country Championships.


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