Glenrose Xaba is a runner who may not be a household name just yet, despite her long list of accomplishments in sports.
She has been carving her name in the sporting industry with outstanding performance on the track.
Olympic gold medallist and three-time world champion over 800m, Caster Semenya, has been mentoring Xaba since 2019, when she stepped up to the half marathon stage and won the national 21km title in her debut ASA Half-Marathon.
The long-distance runner is dominating the domestic running space; she holds the 10km cross-country, 10km road running and 10 000m track titles.
To celebrate Women’s Month, we spoke to this young runner to get to know her and the passion she has for the track
What makes you unique as a person and an athlete?
As a person I am caring and kind. As an athlete I am serious and make sure I stay in the correct direction while remaining humble with everything I achieve. I am to be disciplined, respectful, determined, hard-working and to put God first in everything I do.
You have won national championships on track, in cross-country and on the road at 10km and half-marathon distance. Do you plan to specialise?
I will continue to compete in a variety of events. The 10km on track is for keeping my speed and rhythm, cross-country for power and endurance. All of these will enable me to excel at half-marathon distance. When I finally move to the marathon I will use the 10km and 21km runs only for speed and endurance.
How close are you to breaking Elana Meyer’s half-marathon record of 66.44?
My best time so far is 3 minutes off the record. To achieve this goal I need to keep pushing and work very hard on my last 5km through to the finish.
Was the Olympics bitter-sweet to watch with you having narrowly missed out on qualifying?
I started my year with a serious injury so that made me shift my focus away from qualifying for the Olympics because I needed to focus to getting better and not forcing things. I will try to qualify for future Olympics.
Please tell us about your coach?
My coach Caster Semenya is a very great and serious person. Caster likes to work with athletes who work hard, are focused, and have a clear vision. Because she is someone who works hard and believes in her capabilities.
Tell us about the role of Caster Semenya and her wife Violet Raseboya in your life?
On a personal note, I thank God that I got to meet these two people when I first arrived in Pretoria as a 20-year-old. They have supported me financially and taught me how to become responsible, love and caring. They have become my family and show me love in good and bad times. As an athlete they play a very important role by giving me encouragement to never give up on my talents.
They support me with running equipment, transportation and even pay for my physiotherapy. Ensuring my life becomes less stressful so that I can keep my focus on the big picture, achieve my goals and make my dreams come true. I could write a book about all they have done for me.
What shoes do you run in?
I like the new Puma Deviate Nitro especially for distance racing as they are supportive and comfortable for my legs. They save me energy and I recover more quickly after having run long distances.
How do you measure success?
Firstly, Olympic qualification, because the Olympics are special. They only come around every four years and is the special event every athlete wants to experience. Secondly, a national record because it creates a great memory for all the hard work, dedication, determination and sacrifice.
What makes you most proud?
When I look at my life so far, I feel proud for having won multiple national titles, for winning the Spar Women’s Challenge in 2018 and for being the third fastest South Africa women over 21km.
What life lessons has running taught you?
I have learned that you can be successful through sport and become the person you want to be in your life. Another lesson is that sport can be painful, like when you get injured and are forced to stop. You also need to accept that you cannot win all the time, so that you can continue to enjoy what you love doing.