Xaba the pocket bat­tle­ship

South Africa the win­ner af­ter Glen­rose de­cided to heed her mother’s ad­vice.

The Citizen (KZN) - - SPORT - Wes­ley Bo on

Very quiet and unas­sum­ing, Glen­rose Xaba’s timid char­ac­ter be­lies the fe­ro­cious de­ter­mi­na­tion she dis­plays on the track and the road, and af­ter ris­ing in the South African dis­tance run­ning ranks in re­cent years, she has es­tab­lished her­self as one of the coun­try’s most promis­ing en­durance ath­letes.

As is the case with many of the na­tion’s elite stars, Xaba emerged from hum­ble be­gin­nings.

Born and raised in Em­balenhle town­ship in Mpumalanga, she started run­ning in pri­mary school and be­gan to take the sport more se­ri­ously in high school when her mom urged her to nur­ture the tal­ent she had spot­ted in her pre­co­cious child.

“When I went to sec­ondary school my mom ad­vised me to join a club so I could com­pete in races,” Xaba re­calls.

It was good ad­vice, and she soon be­gan to reap the re­sults of a con­sis­tent train­ing regime.

At the age of 18, Xaba fin­ished sec­ond in the 1 500m and 3 000m fi­nals at the SA Ju­nior Cham­pi­onships in Pre­to­ria, and she has since evolved into a for­mi­da­ble war­rior on the do­mes­tic cir­cuit.

The 23-year-old elec­tri­cal en­gi­neer­ing stu­dent, now based in Pre­to­ria, jug­gles her stud­ies with her ca­reer as a pro­fes­sional ath­lete, and over the last cou­ple of years she has be­come a dom­i­nant force.

Car­ried by a small frame and a pow­er­ful, choppy stride, she turned heads at elite se­nior level last year when she won the 10 000m ti­tle on the track at the SA Ath­let­ics Cham­pi­onships, and she went on to se­cure a rare 4km and 10km dou­ble at the SA Cross Coun­try Cham­pi­onships.

Though she did not turn out in de­fence of her track crown this sea­son, Xaba re­tained her 10km ti­tle at the na­tional cross coun­try cham­pi­onships, hold­ing off a late chal­lenge from Kesa Molot­sane in a sprint for the line.

Mak­ing an im­pact on the road for the first time in 2018, she also se­cured the over­all ti­tle in the six-leg Spar Women’s Grand Prix 10km se­ries, tak­ing home the R185 000 over­all win­ner’s purse.

Though she is ea­ger to con­tinue com- pet­ing across all dis­tance run­ning dis­ci­plines, Xaba ad­mits it is tough to per­form con­sis­tently on all sur­faces in a range of con­di­tions.

“Cross coun­try is very dif­fi­cult be­cause you need to do more en­durance and hill train­ing, and on the track you need to put some speed in,” she says.

“Rac­ing on the road can also be dif­fi­cult be­cause some­times you’re run­ning down, some­times it’s flat.”

Mo­ti­vated by her re­cent per­for­mances, Xaba hopes to main­tain her im­pres­sive form in the 2019 sea­son by mak­ing her maiden ap­pear­ance at the IAAF World Cham­pi­onships in Doha.

As the coun­try’s top fe­male ath­lete in the off-road dis­ci­pline, she has also ex­pressed her in­ter­est in lead­ing the na­tional team at the 2019 World Cross Coun­try Cham­pi­onships in Aarhus, Den­mark, but only if it does not clash with the lu­cra­tive Grand Prix cam­paign.

“I have a few goals I’d like to achieve next year,” Xaba says, look­ing ahead to the next stage of her ca­reer.

“I want to de­fend my Spar Ladies se­ries ti­tle. I also want to go to the track and field World Cham­pi­onships, and I just want to keep do­ing my best.”

Pic­tures: Gallo Im­ages

SMALL, BUT A BIG HEART. Glen­rose Xaba has come from hum­ble be­gin­nings and is now one of South Africa’s elite dis­tance run­ners.

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