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  • Writer's pictureThathe Msimango

'I never threw in the towel' - Seme ready for 50km Worlds after getting first SA colours at 38 years

In June, Sikhumbuzo Seme tackling his second Comrades Marathon produced a wonderful and composed 5:30:05 run to obtain 11th place overall. After missing out on the top 10 by a mere 16 seconds to lose out on what would have been a maiden a gold medal, the 38-year-old Hollywood Athletic Club elite athlete has now healed enough to talk about Comrades. "This year's Comrades was fast. At first, my target was to run better time than I did last year which I have achieved very well," explains the man who produced a 6:07:36 finish on debut in 2022.

Seme enjoying an amazing run at the 2023 Comrades Marathon. Photo Credit: Hollywood AC.

"Everything worked according what I had planned throughout the race and the body responded very well. I was super fit on the day and I told myself anything is possible here. As I approached the finish line, I heard people shouting and instruct me to push because I'm still inside the top 10. I was amazed because I thought I was number 15 or below. Then I pushed till the finish line and it where I heard that number 10 has just entered now. That's when I realized that I have missed the podium by a few seconds. That hit me hard but I told myself I gave my best on the day," said the son of legendary running coach Michael 'Sponge' Seme.

Those Comrades wounds were healed when he got a call a few weeks later notifying him that he had beeen selected to represent the country for the first time in the upcoming IAU World 50km Championship scheduled on the 5th of November in Hyderbad, India. Seme, who trains in his father's base, the Sponge group, alongside Stephen Mokoka and Collen Mulaudzi, couldn't hide the joy of getting his first national colours at his age.

Seme is honoured by KZN Athletics President Steve Mkhasi and his deputy Mandla Mngomezulu for finishing as the first KZN runner at the 2023 Comrades Marathon. Photo Credit: Hollywood AC.

"I didn't expect it all but at the same I was happy to get an opportunity to represent the country. Its something I have dreamt of from a very young age when I entered the athletics. I have tried so many times in my life to get this opportunity. I have failed sometimes but never threw in the towel. I was even looking at times to qualify for the World Championship and Olympics and I saw that they are fast and it would be hard for me. Then I focused on the ultras with the aim of getting qualification. That decision has paid off for me. I might be 38 but I have finally achieved my goal. It shows that its never too late to achieve your dreams," said the man who hails from the KwaZulu-Natal town of Newcastle.

With the preparations done, the man who started out as a 3000m steeplechase athlete with a personal best of 8:41.8h is aiming to assist the team first to achieve a medal at those championships in India this weekend. "The preparations for the big day have gone quite well. The most important thing is to assist the team to get a team medal. That would be huge for us. Then an individual medal would also be a huge thing if I can achieve it. If that could happen then I would cherish it for the rest of my life. So yeah, I'm targeting a podium finish," he said.

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