GLENROSE XABA, CROSS COUNTRY QUEEN
Glenrose Xaba of Athletics Gauteng North (AGN) made her mark on Saturday when she dominated the women’s senior 4km and 10km races at the 2017 ASA Cross Country Championships in Potchefstroom. Amidst the drama that was brought on by hot conditions which saw many athletes scurrying for the finish line, Xaba took home a total of 5 medals with 4 of them being gold and one bronze medal. The robust championships which had scorching temperatures over 30 degrees and races equally as hot saw Precious Mashele, Mthobisi Baloyi, Kabelo Melamu, and Rachel Leistra, among others, being crowned champions.
Glenrose lined up for the women’s 10km race at Pukke’s Sport Fields with a sub 34-minute season’s best to her name, and although the defending champion Kesa Moletsane was there, it would have been difficult to outclass Xaba on the day as she was clearly drained from the previous weeks’ FISU World Student Games. Xaba broke the tape in 35:51 minutes, which was 19 seconds clear of the Freestate star athlete Moletsane and Central Gauteng Athletics’ Maria Shai. And while Thobile Vilakazi, Yandiswa Shange and Rachel Leistra won the junior, under 17 and under 23 women’s titles, Precious Mashele and Kabelo Melamu won the men’s 4km and 10km titles, signifying CGA’s dominance.
But the day belonged to the Mpumalanga-born Xaba. Four hours after winning the 10km, she lined up and managed to outmanoeuvre her competitors to win the shorter 4km race and then adding gold in the 8km mixed relay which was the final event of the championships adding to AGN’s medal tally. Xaba won an additional gold in the 4km competition relay and bronze in the 10km team competition which gave her a total of 5. Star junior athlete Dais Malebane cruised to a 25:22 minutes 8km victory, letting Katleho Moloi and Thami Khonco fill the remainder of the podium spaces.
A race to remember, though, was the men’s 4km. With a packed line-up that included defending champion Marko Buccariza, previous winner Mthobisi Baloyi, former SA u/23 champion Jeromy Andreas and multiple champion Rantso Mokopane, spectators were in for a treat. As expected, the anticipated drama was provided, but eventually it was hometown hero Mthobisi Baloyi who took the honours. As per usual, he found himself among the favourites, and when the opportunity to set himself apart came, he took it and never looked back.
With a total of 3798 athletes competing at this year’s ASA Cross Country Championships this was the record attendance for the Championships which shows an amazing growth and interest in the often-overlooked Cross Country events. The ASA organizers and host province (North West) certainly deserve a pat on the back for putting up such a great show.
Written by Reggie Hufkie