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  • Writer's pictureMosibodi Whitehead

'That's the territory of being in the final' - Sepeng explains Sekgodišo's 1:57 Diamond League success

Updated: May 22

"It was hell. I wanted to come out after 3km. I was out of breath. I couldn't push anymore. The wind was too much for me. But it's not my event and I did learn from it because it's preparing me for the future. But I don't think I'm gonna run that thing anymore. I've never felt like that before. I'm done."

Those were Prudence Sekgodišo's words after grabbing the silver medal behind Glenrose Xaba at the Athletics South Africa (ASA) Senior Track & Field Championships in Pietermaritzburg last month. Dragged out of her comfort zone by a relentless Xaba on a boiling hot day at the Msunduzi Athletics Stadium, South Africa's 800m queen crossed the finish line thirteen seconds behind SuperCharger in 16:02.04.

Sekgodišo reacts after seeing the clock display her new 1:57.26 PB. Photo Credit: Sepeng Athletics Project.

Whilst gasping for air in the aftermath, the 22-year-old who had secured automatic Olympic qualification with a personal best 1:58.05 at the Pilditch Stadium in Pretoria on the 2nd of March, questioned her coach Samuel Sepeng's wisdom. But the younger brother of Olympic 800m silver medalist Hezekiel Sepeng had been dead right. Presenting the merits of putting his two-lap specialist through the torture of twelve and a half laps of the track against one of the country's finest 5000m athletes, Sepeng argued that in an Olympic year where the season would be long, Sekogodišo would need to be strong.

"Our approach for this year has been simple. We started with the 5000m and then dropped to the 1500m to add the strength because she's not a speed athlete, so we want to attack the time from the longer side - long to short. To be honest, it works for us. So we came up with the mentality of getting 1:58 in South Africa because once we do that we know that the chances of getting 1:56 or 1:55 like other girls in Europe are good. That's the territory of being in the final," he explained.

Sepeng (centre wearing sunglasses and blue sweater) poses with his athletes at their training base at the University of Pretoria's LC de Villers Stadium. Photo Credit: Sepeng Athletics Project.

It came as little surprise then when the 7-time national champion announced herself to the world as an Olympic medal contender in the Rabat Diamond League last night. Running in meet where she made her Diamond League debut two years ago before going on to represent the country at the World Championships in Oregon and Budapest, the young lady from Limpopo who now resides in Pretoria looked every bit the genuine article when she sailed to a personal best 1:57.26 and her first ever Diamond League win. And after falling at the bell during last year's semi-final in Budapest, Sekgodišo is ready for another try at making it to the last round at #Paris2024.

"Now I'm at the top of my game. Now I know what to expect. I'm just like them. I just go there motivated, knowing that I'll be in the top 5 and chase those girls. I'm gonna go with the same plan that I went with to Oregon and Budapest. The plan stays the same - make it to the final. Anything can happen in the final."

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