'I told myself that this year I want to work hard' - Breakthrough run for Makatisi at SPAR Gqeberha
While the race was dominated by the return of defending Grand Prix champion Tadu Nare who missed the first race in Cape Town, Saturday's second SPAR Grand Prix outing of 2023 in Gqeberha saw a top performance from another athlete. Lesotho's Mokulubete Blandina Makatisi broke 33 minutes for the first time when she took fourth place behind Glenrose Xaba (third) in a new 10km personal best time of 32:46.
It is a performance that has been a long time coming from the woman who began her career as a track athlete running 1500m during her junior years back in 2012. Switching to the road, Makatisi found it initially difficult to compete at the sharp end of the field. For example, as recently as September 2021 her official 10km personal best stood at 34:03, but all that changed when Martin Ngwenya began coaching her at the beginning of this year.
Ngwenya who is better known as the Team Manager for the Maxed Elite stable of top runners, is also making strides as a coach after completing his ASA Level 2 coaching and management certificate. He tinkered with his new athlete's training programme and the results have started to come. Since January the 27-year old has won the DisChem Half Marathon (1:19:54), finished third at the Totalsports Two Oceans Half Marathon (1:16:14) and now smashed her 10km PB in a fast SPAR Gqeberha race where nine women dipped under 34 minutes..
"I told myself that this year I want to work hard," she told #TheTopRunner. "The next 18 months will be very busy year with the All Africa Games, the World Championships and the Olympics coming up. I told myself that I just need to try my best to make the team for one of those competitions," said the woman who ran 2:46:25 for eighth place at the Durban International Marathon in March.
The Maxed Elite top runner will need to improve her times quite a bit if she is to follow in the fast footsteps of Lesotho's national record holder in the marathon Neheng Khatala who represented The Mountain Kingdom at #Tokyo2021. But after taking eighth place in a new lifetime best (2:36:05) in the marathon at the 2022 Commonwealth Games, Makatisi is confident of achieving her goal saying Khatala has given her a lot of encouragement and she believes that it is only a matter of time before she also represents her country on the highest stage.
"The plan is to run the half marathon at the All Africa Games and try to qualify for the Olympics in 42km. People like Neheng give me a lot of motivation because one day I want to be like them and go to the Olympic Games representing my country," she said.