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  • Writer's pictureMosibodi Whitehead

Xaba downs Sekgodišo in 5000m thriller as Nadeel Wildschutt wins 10 000m on day 1 of SA Champs

With most of the events on day one of the Athletics South Africa (ASA) Senior Track & Field Championships being heats and semi-finals, spectators at the Msunduzi Stadium waited until the late afternoon to witness the first middle distance final of the championships. Billed as a clash of strength against speed, multiple SA 10 000m, 10km and 21km champion Glenrose Xaba clashed against multiple SA 800m and 1500m champion Prudence Sekgodišo over 5000m with defending champion Kayla Jacobs also in the race.

The race developed exactly as anticipated with the longer distance athlete taking the decisive lead with two thousand metres to go as she tried to run the speed out of 800m specialist Sekgodišo's legs. The woman who reached the semi-final in the two lap event at the World Championships in Budapest last year, tried to stick close to Xaba in order to unleash her trademark kick over the final lap. But SuperCharger had done enough and secured a memorable 15:48.44 victory for Athletics Gauteng North (AGN) as Sekgodišo now running for Phantane Athletic Club got the silver medal (16:02.04), and Jacobs the bronze (16:03.97).

Xaba finally claims her first SA 5000m title. Photo Credit: Lifutso Mabua.

"My race went very well because we planned with the coach to go after 3kms," she told journalists after claiming her first ever SA title over twelve and a half laps of the track. "Thanks to Kayla for such a great run to 3000m. I really appreciate it. I'm not person who looks back when I'm running, but I was expecting to see Prudence challenging me. But if she had come I was going to challenge her until the finish line because I was absolutely looking forward achieving this gold medal. I've been trying for so many years to win this 5000m but I would always get second or bronze. So I'm very excited to achieve this medal."

That victory will leave the Boxer Athletic Club top runner confident about her prospects of dipping under the automatic Olympic qualification standard of 14:52 or at least getting close enough to be included in the final 42 women that make the Olympic grade based on their world rankings. The Puma ambassador who is the holder of a 15.25.92 5000m lifetime best and 32:04.08 for the 10 000m says she will try and book her Olympic spot in both events.

Wildschutt celebrates a maiden SA title after winning the 10 000m. Photo Credit: Lifutso Mabua.

"I'm very happy with the time because we did not start very fast, that's why we ended up running 15:48. It's such a good time. If I can go overseas I think I can do much better because I will be able to go with those ladies and they are fast and they also have light waves that guide you with the pace. I want to try and qualify for both of them and I just got invited to race the 10 000m in London on The Night of PB's."

In the other distance final of the day Nadeel Wildschutt, brother of Adriaan Wildschutt triumphed (29:15.93) in an entertaining battle against Athletic Central North West's Puseletso Mofokeng (29:19.01) to win the 10 000m gold medal for Boland while KwaZulu-Natal Athletics' Sibusiso Kubheka was third (29:43.22).

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