• Thathe Msimango

Mabhida revives old club with backing from local businessman

Prominent South African athletics coach Xolani Mabhida has decided to revive his old athletics club - Speed Xplosion. Mabhida, who led Bongumusa Mthembu to two consecutive Comrades Marathon victories, had been on the books of Xcel Running Club as the coach of their elite athlete program - a relationship which started when the club launched in October 2020. During his tenure with Xcel, Mabhida got the best out of Sibusiso Kubheka who ran well to take 5th position in the Nedbank Runified 50k in May.

But their marriage has ended as Mabhida seeks growth and explores other avenues. "I do feel this is a good idea to bring back my own club right now," said Mabhida during a telephonic conversation with #TheTopRunner.


Xolani Mabhida has left Xcel to revive his old club and says his aim is to unearth future champions. Photo Credit: Xolani Mabhida.

"Going to Xcel last year, I aimed to coach athletes belonging to one club. It was a new situation for me because before, you would find that I'm coaching athletes for instance running for Arthur Ford, Hollywoodbets( Running Club), etc. But unfortunately, I didn't stick around for too long with Xcel as I wanted other challenges in life. Then I decided I can't keep on joining other people's clubs so I decided to revive my club," he explained.


As a full-time coach Mabhida is aware that running a club comes at a high cost, which is why he has managed to rope in businessman Deon Naidoo to ease the financial pressure. He believes being over-ambitious is what results in most clubs failing to progress. "I have run an athletics club before and it became successful in ta way you won't believe," said the Howick born coach.

Mabhida coaching one of his young athletes during his time with Xcel. Photo Credit: Xolani Mabhida.

"So I'm fully aware of the costs required to manage it. But sometimes you don't need to be over-ambitious in these things rather pick what you feel is valuable. You can't do all the things at the same time. Most clubs fail because people make unnecessary costs. On my side, I have already secured people who are willing to assist me, and that is a huge boost," he shared.

Mabhida who has unearthed talented athletes including the likes of Comrades marathon gold medalist Nkosikhona Mhlakwana and Ndumiso Sokhela, says his aim is to transform his club into one of the country's leading clubs in the next five years.


"The vision I have now is to unearth raw talent that I would groom to be future champions," elaborates Mabhida. "I believe in going out and searching for new talented athletes that would excel in sports going forward. I want them to compete and get medals in big races and win Championships. And if I can also help them secure scholarships based on their talent then that would be huge to me. So that would be my primary focus in the club," he concluded.

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