'We aimed for the stars and fell on the clouds' - Sesedi's coach shares the story behind the success
Updated: Aug 16, 2022
While some may have been left surprised by Andries Sesedi's triumph at the Athletics South Africa (ASA) 10km Championships on Saturday, his coach wasn't. The unheralded Central Gauteng Athletics (CGA) top runner bested a quality field including reigning national 10 000m champion Mbuleli Mathanga when he crossed the finish line at the Pilditch Stadium in 28:58 - 14 seconds ahead of Nicholas Seoposengwe (second), with Mathanga settling for third (29:15). It was a maiden senior title for the man from Mohlakeng who only turned 21 in April and his coach says we ain't seen nothing yet.
"In 2020 he qualified to represent South Africa at the African Cross Country Championships but the competition was cancelled due to Covid-19. Last year we aimed to qualify for the 2022 World Championships but failed. So I guess the success we have experienced in the second half of 2022 came from the fact that we aimed for the stars and fell on the clouds," said his coach Motlatsi Sesing who was himself a runner before turning to coaching.
The 2022 success Sesing speaks of began earlier in the year when his young charge from the Colossus Athletic Club ran under 29 minutes (28:39) for the first time to claim fourteenth place at the Absa RUN YOUR CITY DURBAN 10km last month. That performance came just three months after Sesedi smashed his 10 000m personal best by over a minute to take ninth position (29:35.12) behind the champion Mathanga at the ASA Senior Track and Field Championships in Cape Town. Those results are clear evidence that Saturday's run had been a long time coming, especially because he is working with a coach who also discovered and continues to coach Kabelo Melamu - a man that broke 29 minutes during his first year as a senior athlete back in 2017.
42-year old Sesing believes he is able to get the best out of his athletes because he takes a long term view. "A successful runner knows what they want and I come in to guide them on that journey. Long term goals are more important to me as a coach than short term achievements. A runner needs discipline, focus and most importantly they need to stay motivated to achieve their long term goals," he said, explaining his coaching philosophy.
That Sesing has been able to produce a senior national champion from a community club with very little resources speaks volumes about his dedication as a coach and mentor. What helps is that Sesing's wife Keneilwe Sesing was herself a top runner and so understands the difficulties faced by a coach who is trying to do the best he can for talented but grossly under-resourced township runners. It means that even if he doesn't manage to keep Sesedi as the professional clubs clamour for his signature, Sesing has been left energized by his young athlete's groundbreaking performance and knows that even more young stars are set to follow in his fast footsteps.
"It's been a mountain to climb, especially financially. It's easier when your partner is involved. I hope one day the local township clubs will be able to find sponsorships to retain their performing athletes. Since becoming SA Champ, it's been very difficult to keep him at Colossus Athletics Club. Nevertheless, I am very happy for him and excited. I also believe that I can now move to qualifying athletes for international standards," he said.