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  • Writer's pictureMosibodi Whitehead

"It’s all the coach’s doing" - says dark horse Khubeka ahead of ASA Grand Prix 5000m in CT tonight

When you turn on your television to watch the second ASA Grand Prix Meet on SuperSport tonight, make sure you don't miss the men’s 5000m. Lining up in a mouthwatering field including the likes of Nadeel Wildschitt, Mbueleli Mathanga, Collen Mulaudzi, Marko Bucarizza, Kabelo Seboko, Milton Kekana and Melikhaya Frans will be the less fancied but equally dangerous Sibusiso Khubeka.

At just 24 years old, the talent from KwaZulu Natal boasts an impressive range from 1500m to 50km. And while some may criticise the wisdom of pushing a relatively young athlete into ultra distance running, the man himself says he is able to do it because his coach Xolani Mabhida (who also coached Mthembu to Comrades glory) understands his body so well.

Khubeka leads a bunch including Comrades Marathon 11th place finisher Nkhosikhona Mhlakwana in a track race at the Kings Park Athletic Stadium in Durban. Photo Credit: Xcel Running Club.

“I have to thank my coach a lot for the training programme that he gives us,” said Khubeka who finished ahead of 3-time Comrades Marathon Champion Bong’musa Mthembu when he ran 2:42:56 for fifth place at the 2021 Nedbank Runified Breaking Barriers 50km ultra marathon and followed that up with a 02:49:56 for sixth place in the same race won by Stephen Mokoka three weeks ago.

But it is possibly over the shorter distances, that the Excel Running Club athlete has shown even greater promise. Working with a 3:50.69 1500m personal best set in February 2020, Khubeka surprised many with his 28:39 performance at the SA 10km Championships last October which came just a few months after he had set a 21km personal best of 1:01:36 for sixth place at the SA Half Marathon Championships in the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality.

Khubeka and Xcel Running Club teammate Zinhle Shabalala pose with their medals after finishing inside the top ten at the NEdbank Runified Breaking Barriers 50km on 6 March 2022. Photo Credit: Xcel Running Club.

And armed with a new 5000m personal record of 14:07 which he ran in Pietermaritzburg just over ten days ago, the versatile Khubeka looks primed to dip under the 14 minute mark if the weather plays along at the Greenpoint Stadium in Cape Town tonight.

“The programme is very good. He knows my body and how to prepare it for long distances and short distances. It’s all the coach’s doing. He is the one who takes my body and prepares it for short distances to make sure that I perform well. He then also changes the training to get us ready for long distances so that I can run well there too,” he concluded.

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