Cape Town — When you speak to Prudence Sekgodiso, you can hear the youthful exuberance shining through.
She talks with great excitement in her voice, but on the track, she means business. The 20-year-old has conquered the South African scene by doing the 800m-1 500m double at the recent national championships in Cape Town, and now she begins her quest to announce herself on the world stage.
Sekgodiso will hope to make a big impression at the African championships later this month and the world championships in July.
But before that, she is going to fulfil one of her dreams – running in a Diamond League event. The Limpopo youngster jetted off to Morocco last night to compete in the 800m in Rabat on Sunday in her first race at that elite level, and she cannot wait to line up at the Prince Moulay Abdellah Stadium.
It is the same venue where Bafana Bafana will face the Moroccans in an Africa Cup of Nations qualifier on June 9, so Sekgodiso will look to make her mark alongside fellow South Africans Ruswahl Samaai (long jump) and Luxolo Adams (200m) on Sunday.
“That was part of my training, and I got the invite. I am flying tomorrow (Thursday night), and that is the biggest race for me now. I don’t really care about the other Africans competing there, as I know I am going to place,” Sekgodiso told Independent Media on the sidelines of the Under Armour All Out Mile event at the Green Point Athletics Stadium on Wednesday night – which she won in 4:43.17.
“I’m not too sure (about the rest of the Diamond League field), but the goal there is to place, not to win. If I win it, it’s a bonus! The plan is to run a PB (personal best) there also.
“Competing in the Diamond League is a dream for me. It finally came true, so ja, I am excited. I haven’t seen the starting list and I don’t have much pressure. The goal there is to just be in the top five. If I win, it’s a bonus… I know myself – I’m gonna do it!”
Sekgodiso got the rest of the world sit up and take notice when she produced an excellent new personal best of 1:58.41 to win the race and beat Ugandan world champion Halimah Nakaayi at the Kip Keino Classic in Nairobi last month.
“Before that, I went to Botswana for the 1 500m, and that also placed me as the fastest woman in SA in the 1 500m also (with 4:09.88). I was like… I remember that I also had to compete at the USSAs (SA university championships), but I told myself that I am cut this one and am going to run in Nairobi – only to find that I am going to run the fastest 800m by a South African this year. So, that was quite a good decision,” she said.
Sekgodiso wants to chase Caster Semenya’s South African records of 1:54.25 (800m) and 3:59.92 (1 500m) one day, but her immediate focus is on the Diamond League race on Sunday, where her main competitors will be Britain’s Alexandra Bell, France’s Renelle Lamote, Ethiopia’s Worknesh Mesele and Kenyan duo Mary Moraa and Jarinter Mwasya.
That will be followed by the African championships in Port Louis, Mauritius (June 8-12) and the world championships in Eugene, Oregon in the US (July 15-24).
“I’m coming home first from Rabat, and only flying on the eighth as I am only running on the last two days. I’m just doing 800m. It was going to be too much to do both – heats, semis, finals. So I thought, let me just do the 800m,” Sekgodiso said.
“I’m excited about running in my first African championships, and I don’t have too much pressure as I ran with some of the girls. It’s nothing to worry about, actually. The big one is coming on Sunday, the Diamond League in Morocco.
“It’s going to be a bit challenging to run more international races before the world championships, as I have to get my Schengen visa, which is going to take time, and I also have to do my US visa, which is going to take time.
“After Mauritius (at the African champs), I am going to have a three-week camp in Limpopo, because it’s hot there.”