The Zet Sinqe Foundation Series is a two-legged event that will take place in Kagiso next Sunday and in Orange Farm on October 11 with mile-long races for boys and girls in age categories of under-11, 13, 15, 17 and 19.
To the uninitiated, Zet is short for Zithulele - the former superstar of local road running.
It is because of what he was doing before he died in a car accident in 2011 that has given birth to the series, his daughter Zintle and son Siyabulela taking it upon themselves to follow in the footsteps of their father and his dream of finding new running talent.
Zintle explains: “This is something we have always been wanting to do. We were just not ready then. But it is exciting and fulfilling to finally get to start this. My father passed away at a time when we had not really done anything for him and it makes us feel really good to be continuing in what he believed in. He was passionate in his efforts of trying to help people out of poverty because this sport did that for him and he really believed it could do the same for others.”
The goal of the Zet Sinqe Foundation is to see the Series become a national event that will serve as a feeder of talent to educational institutions. In that way, they believe, South Africa’s road running talent pool is sure to grow while simultaneously the talented youngsters will get the opportunity to forge career paths academically.
The fact that the Series enjoys an endorsement from Central Gauteng Athletics, on whose commission Sinqe served, speaks to how highly the man was revered. And with good reason too. Sinqe was a beast on the road, his achievements in just about all distances the stuff of dreams.
In 1986 at the SA Marathon Championships, he ran the continent’s fastest marathon time, 2:08:04, that is yet to be beaten locally. Gert Thys’s national record of 2:06:33 was set on foreign soil, Tokyo, Japan. That time Sinqe ran made him the fourth fastest marathoner at the time.
Speaking of world standards, the legend was a joint world record holder in the half marathon with his 60:11 time that he ran in East London in 1987 at his peak.
To appreciate just how great a runner Sinqe was you need to know that he ran at the time of the likes of Willie Mtolo and Matthews Temane - fantastic athletes that he beat.
Sinqe won the Soweto Marathon on two occasions and his winning time of 2:18:03 from 1985 became the course record until 2003. He also achieved double victory at the Two Oceans Marathon (1996 and 1997) and was South Africa’s marathon champion on two occasions as well (1986 and 1987).
That he was part of Team SA’s marathon team for the country’s Olympics debut at Barcelona 92 should thus not be surprising. He had a backache though and could not finish the historical race.
He has a fourth place finish at the 2000 Comrades Marathon and won the 1994 Sydney (Australia) Marathon in a record time of 2:14:12. He was also a winner at the 1997 Guadalajara Marathon in Spain.
Should the Zet Sinqe Foundation Series help to unearth talented youngsters who can go on to become half the athlete Sinqe was, they would have done an incredible job.@tshiliboy