SA athletes must ‘work together’ to bridge the gap, says Broodryk
The gap between SA athletes and their international opponents, particularly from East Africa, has widened in recent years.
Adele Broodryk congratulates Murray & Roberts Running Club teammate and fellow gold medallist Jenna Challenor at the recent Comrades Marathon. Picture: Darren Stewart/Gallo Images
One of South Africa’s latest road running sensations, Adele Broodryk, believes the local athletics community must start working together if the nation’s elite stars are going to close the gap on the best athletes around the globe.
Broodryk was the first South African home on her Comrades Marathon debut in KwaZulu-Natal in August, finishing third overall after leading for most of the race, and she was back in action on Sunday at the Spar Grand Prix 10km race held at Marks Park where she took 15th place.
After seven foreigners finished in the top 10 at the Grand Prix race, led by Ethiopian Tadu Nare who won in 33:32, Broodryk said it was crucial for South Africans to start using a team mindset if they hoped to shine again on the international stage.
While the country has produced a long list of world-class road runners in the past – winning six World Marathon Majors races, an Olympic gold medal and a world half-marathon title between 1992 and 2004 – the gap between SA athletes and their international opponents, particularly from East Africa, has widened in recent years.
Dominant athletes from Kenya and Ethiopia often rely on team tactics to outclass their opponents, and they train together in large groups when they’re at home.
A similar approach, Broodryk felt, would help South Africa reclaim its place as a contender at the highest level of the sport.
“It would be great if our top athletes could have training camps where we could push each other,” said Broodryk, a sports scientist by profession.
“To bridge the gap on international athletes, we need to take hands and work together.”
Glenrose Xaba, who was the first South African but settled for fourth place at the Grand Prix race, agreed with her compatriot.
“We see Kenyans and Ethiopians helping each other,” Xaba said, “and as South Africans we need to do the same.”