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  • Writer's pictureMosibodi Whitehead

Xaba hails Caster Semenya as good but strict coach as she takes second at Tshwane SPAR 10km

Although she finished second yet again behind runaway series leader Tadu Nare, Glenrose Xaba remains optimistic about doing well in the SPAR Women's Grand Prix now that she has enlisted the services of Caster Semenya as her new coach. The Ethiopian clocked 32:56 to win the Tshwane leg of the celebrated women's 10km series at the Agricultural Research Council Farm in Irene on Heritage Day. Xaba's 33:42 for second place meant that she was closer to Nare than she was a week ago in Durban and that was because of the strategy that her new coach told her to employ.

"She told me to stick to Tadu," said the Boxer Athletic Club runner shortly after the race. "She [Semenya] said I should run with her and give her a challenge so she feels me and knows that I am there. The strategy was for me to go with Tadu for as long as I could so that those behind us wouldn't be able to catch us. She is particularly strong over the last three kilometres. But I am still determined to beat her," explained the reigning SA half marathon champion.

Xaba goes toe to toe with Ethiopia's Tadu Nare at the Agricultural Research Centre in Irene. The Nedbank Running Club athlete has won four out of four SPAR Women's Grand Prix races in 2021. Photo Credit: Reg Caldecott.

While the change in coaching personnel may have caught some by surprise, Xaba believes that it was a natural progression to move from Michael Seme to be guided by the Olympic and World Championship gold medalist. "Working with Caster is good fortune because many athletes wish to work with her but don't get the opportunity. But if you want to work with her you should be disciplined and know what you want in life because she is a very serious person," she shared.

Their relationship is one borne of mutual respect both on and off the track, which all started when the two trained together under Seme. The Mpumalanga-born athlete says making the adjustment from training partner to coach was easy. "Nothing changed. Coach is always funny but when it comes to training she is serious and there is a difference that now we are training. I'm blessed to be working with her," she beamed.

Xaba and Caster Semenya discuss race tactics. Photo Credit: Reg Caldecott.

Xaba announced earlier this week that she would be supporting Semenya's Foundation, which distributes sanitary products to girls in impoverished areas to help them to stay in school when they have their periods. After the race, SPAR handed over 6 000 packs of sanitary pads to the Foundation - 600 for every kilometre Xaba completed. Meanwhile Olympic marathoner Gerda Steyn was third in 34.17 minutes to take the same position that she took in Durban last week. The next race is in Johannesburg on October 3 and the final race in the series is in Gqeberha on October 9.

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