Xaba out to keep Grand Prix title in SA

GLENROSE Xaba will lead South African athletes in the fight to keep the Grand Prix title at home. | Archives

GLENROSE Xaba will lead South African athletes in the fight to keep the Grand Prix title at home. | Archives

Published Mar 23, 2024


WHAT are the chances of a South African ending the foreign domination of the Spar Grand Prix Series this year?

The sponsors Spar are doing their best to ensure this is the case as they have added some enticing incentives, on top of the R200 000 winner’s prize, to lure local runners into chasing the glory.

The South African athlete with the most Spar Grand Prix points stands to swell her bank balance by a cool R75 000, as well to drive off in a Proton SUV X50 to use for the year duration of her reign as champion.

Surely that’s reason enough for local athletes to run out of their skins this year.

Spar national PR, communications and sponsorships manager Mpudi Maubane says they are particularly proud of the role they are playing in the promotion and development of women’s sport.

“Spar believes that sport sponsorships provide athletes with much-needed financial support and greater visibility, which can help to level the playing field and promote gender equality in sport.”

The popular women-only 10km Series, made up of numerous Challenges in cities across the country, has been the sole preserve of non-South Africans for four years now, with Ethiopia’s Tadu Nare having completed a hat-trick in previous years to follow on Nambian Helalia Johannes’s incredible victory in 2019. The veteran athlete from across the border won all six challenges and set records along the way prior to the Covid-19 induced absence of the race in 2020.

The preceding year was the last time a South African reigned victorious, with Boxer Athletic Club’s Glenrose Xaba taking home the title.

Along with 2017 champion Kesa Molotsane, Xaba has been a consistent performer in the Series – doing her best to take the fight to Nare and her Ethiopian compatriot Selam Gebre, who regularly occupied the top two podium positions.

The lass from Mpumalanga will once again be out to try and keep the Grand Prix title at home this year over the five-race series, which begins in Cape Town tomorrow. And with Nare and Gebre sitting this one out, Xaba has the opportunity to build up a points lead that should stand her in good stead to win her second title.

She finished in third place last year, a marked improvement on her 10th spot in 2022, when she had a poor beginning to the running season, and given she was also third in 2021 is indicative of her capabilities.

A seasoned campaigner who learnt the ropes from the revered Coach Michael “Sponge” Seme when she trained with the likes of Stephen Mokoka, Xaba continues to prove herself as the country’s best 10km female runner. She did this a fortnight ago when she won the ASA national 10km Championships in Johannesburg in a good time of 33 minutes.

A versatile athlete, Xaba is also Athletics Gauteng North’s 10 000m track champion and remains highly competitive in cross-country – so much so that she, along with her Boxer Athletic Club teammate Cacisile Sosibo, will be representing South Africa at the World Championships in Belgrade, Serbia next week.

She would no doubt love nothing more than to clock massive Grand Prix points by winning in Cape Town tomorrow to put herself in line for the R200 000 available to the overall winner of the five cities – Cape Town, Gqeberha, Durban, Tshwane and Johannesburg – series prize.

There will also be two other Spar Challenges run in Pietermaritzburg and Mbombela, but these races will not contribute towards the Grand Prix points.

Tomorrow’s race will take place at the Greenpoint Stadium.