Elated Ethiopian Star Selam Gebre Wins Jozi Spar Grand Prix

Ethiopian Selam Gebre of Nedbank won the Jozi SPAR Grand Prix at Marks Park Sporting Club in Emmarentia on Sunday, 1 October 2023. Picture Credit: Reg Caldecott

Ethiopia’s Selam Gebre has finally had her moment at the SPAR Grand Prix securing her first sweet victory, following five, successive second place finishes, at the Jozi Grand Prix at Marks Park Sporting Club in Emmarentia on Sunday, 1 October 2023. 

“I don’t have the words to explain how happy I am to have won,” said Gebre.

Gebre who runs for Nedbank finished in a time of 33:41 minutes at Marks Park Sporting Club. Her compatriot Debash Kelati Desta, was second in 33:55. The first South African to cross the finish line was three-time Grand Prix winner, Irvette van Zyl (Hollywood RC), in a time of 35:08.

Nare, already the title holder of this year’s Grand Prix, her third consecutive gong opted to miss the race and prepare for the Chicago Marathon coming on the 8th of October 2023 in Chicago, Illinois. 

Ethiopia’s Selam Gebre Overjoyed

Gebre says she had enjoyed the race although she found the course, which includes several hills, very challenging. Nonetheless, she’s happy to finally be the bride and not the bridesmaid.

“I have had quite a busy time – I was in Copenhagen three weeks ago, and then I ran the Absa race last week, so I haven’t had time to rest and recover. So I am very happy to have won the SPAR Jozi.”

Desta, who’s had an impressive debut in the Grand Prix hasn’t had the opportunity to go home in between races. 

“This is my fourth race in South Africa, and I wasn’t able to go home between races. I have been out of running for some time and I am very happy to be back and doing well again.”

Home Girl Irvette van Zyl Elated to be Back from Injury

Home girl Van Zyl, is elated to be back following a lengthy struggle with a severe stress fracture. 

“I am so happy to be back and to be enjoying my running again. I am now running pain free for the first time in ages. It was one of my toughest injuries, and I have had many injuries,” she said.

“At one stage, I couldn’t even do cross-training. I had to be on crutches and give my leg complete rest. But I was patient and now I feel as though my year has just begun.

The renowned South African runner, says she will definitely do some more races before the end of the year. 

“I am going to do the Cape Town 10km, and I want to include a marathon at some stage.”

Doors Opened for International Athletes

The Grand Prix series has opened doors for international athletes in 2018 and since then they have dominated the podium with Namibian Helalia Johannes winning the Grand Prix twice and Nare winning it three times.

Gebre believes it’s up to the coaches to motivate and push the local athletes harder in order for them to be competitive on the global stages.

She felt the South African coaches needed to push their runners harder if the South Africans were to be competitive internationally.

“You have excellent facilities here, so there is no reason why the South Africans should not do better.”

Van Zyl weighed in: “The running clubs were doing their best to help the runners. “But I feel our National Federation could do more to ensure that we have proper guidance on nutrition and also access to medical support.

“But the women’s team that is competing in the World Half Marathon championships in Latvia is the best ever. I think they are all going to do well today.”

Gebre has earned herself a prize of R30 000. Desta collects R25 000, while Van Zyl will receive R20 000 for her bronze finish. 

Photo Caption: Ethiopian Selam Gebre of Nedbank won the Jozi SPAR Grand Prix at Marks Park Sporting Club in Emmarentia on Sunday, 1 October 2023. Picture Credit: Reg Caldecott

Photo 2 Caption: The top three finishers of the Jozi Grand Prix 10km race held on Sunday, 1 October 2023 at Marks Park Sporting Club in Emmarentia are from left Irvette van Zyl (Hollywood AC) 3rd, Selam Gebre (Nedbank RC) 1st and Debash Desta (Ethiopia) 2nd. Picture Credit: Reg Caldecott

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