Local runners, marathoner ‘Neheng Khatala and track runner Toka Badboy, hoisted the national flag high when they won their respective races at the National Championships held in Durban South Africa on Sunday.
Khatala scooped the Women’s 10 000m race, while Badboy clinched the victor’s award for a sterling performance in the men’s 5000m respectively.
Khatala who last competed in any race in March 2020 during the Bocheletsane marathon, ran a time of 33:46 in the female 10 000 category and broke the previous national record by setting a new one.
He expressed her joy over the victory which she attained despite being inactive for over a year.
Sport in its entirety has been halted since last year when the country halted any activity be it economic, movement and otherwise, as part of initiatives in the Covid-19 mitigation at the outbreak of the global pandemic.
Khatala pointed out that, while it was necessary to obey the set regulations and protocols, nevertheless the protracted inactivity in sports was career threatening because athletes perform best base when they are active.
“I am happy that I won my first race returning to the track, it really feels good,” Khatala said.
“I was a bit uneasy because the race my coach asked me to register for is not my specialty since I am a marathoner but I still managed.
“Also having been inactive for over a year I was really not sure how I would perform in the track field which is already not what I am good at. I would say my preparation was very good for this particular competition hence the results,” she said.
Khatala mentioned that she started strong and kept up the pace although she had no real competition.
“There was no real competition because some of the stronger and competitive athletes were not there,” she said.
She stated that her program has begun as she is in preparations for the Tokyo Olympic Games that will be held in July-August this year.
Her next competitive event will be in Cape Town South Africa this May, and will be one of the last two qualifiers for her chance at the Olympics.
“I have about two competitions that will serve as qualifiers to the Olympics and the last one is in June, so I am already preparing and I have a strong program that I have begun already,” she said.
Meanwhile, Toka Badboy who won the men’s 5000m race at the very National Championships, clocked a time of 14:06 having led the race from the beginning of the race to the end.
Another Lesotho athlete Namakoe Nkhasi finished second in the same men’s category, clocking a time of 14:08.