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Matlhaku credits coach after record-breaking feat

CHAKALISA DUBE
Raring to go: Matlhaku is targeting Olympics qualification after her record breaking feat PIC: KENNEDY RAMOKONE
FRANCISTOWN: Sprinter Leungo Matlhaku has hailed the impact of his coach Ofentse Jele after breaking a long-standing national record in the 100 metres race.

Matlhaku broke the national record in the 100 metres race last weekend after clocking 11.24 seconds during the Sports View meet.

Interestingly, the previous record-holder was Lydia Jele who is Ofentse’s wife. Lydia’s national record of 11.39 has been standing since 2014. “Since the beginning of the year, the coach has been pushing me so hard. He has not only worked on my technical aspect ahead of the race but did well to psyche me up for the weekend race. He deserves much credit for my weekend achievement,” she said. Matlhaku said that she did not expect to break the record. “My focus was on doing well because I have not been competitive for some time. Breaking the record came as a surprise to me,” she said. Matlhaku was quick to point out that she would not get carried away by her new achievement. “There is still a long way to go. My goal is to qualify for the Tokyo 2021 Olympics. I want to build from my performance and prepare for the upcoming Olympic qualifying races.”

She added that she would soon sit down with her coach to map how she can strongly prepare for the races to qualify for the Olympics. Leungo noted that the lockdowns often imposed by government last year in a

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bid to contain the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) negatively impacted her training. “When your training is constantly disrupted, it does not only disrupt your rhythm, it also affects you psychologically,” she said. Matlhaku belongs to Jwaneng Athletics Club, but trains with the University of Botswana Athletics club in Gaborone.

Matlhaku’s coach yesterday told Mmegi Sport that he was also surprised by the 26-year old’s weekend performance. “The time shocked me even though I knew that she was in good condition for the race. We were preparing more for the 200m race than the 100m race,” Jele said. Jele said the good performance that Matlhaku showed in training helped psyche her for the record-breaking race.

“Psychological preparations for the race came from the progress she saw in her training. When she sees her time improve during training her confidence grows. She becomes eager to perform. The work she put in the off-season is paying off. Our plan is very simple, to qualify for the Tokyo 2021 Olympics and keep lowering our personal best.

“Our next race will be on March 27. We will give her time to recover because a personal best drains the athlete for a few days. We will then get back to training very hard. I believe in her capabilities very much.”



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