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Time to move on: Chaka

Moorosi Tsiane

FOR many years, Lineo Chaka, will likely be remembered as the Mosotho marathoner who ran the last two laps of her race alone well after the other competitors had finished at the Commonwealth Games in April 2018.

But Chaka, 30, says despite the touching experience in Australia, she has moved on.

Chaka who was one of the Lesotho 20 athletes at the games, ran the 10 000 meter race and finished last, five minutes later than Ugandan gold medalist Stella Chesang.

In a true show of sportsmanship, three Australian runners, Celia Sullohern, Madeline Hills and Eloise Wellings all waited on the tracks until she finished the race and embraced her.

The incident went viral on social media for weeks and Chaka feels it is time to move on.

“Look I can’t hold on to something that had passed. Some of us this running thing is our lives so I needed to move on,” Chaka told the Sunday Express.

She said the experience of being welcomed by the Australians at the finish line touched her heart but she was happy knowing that she did all that she could.

“It was indeed such a moving experience for me but I had to be strong because that was all that I could offer given how ill prepared local athletes were.”

When she spoke to the Sunday Express, she had just come from her morning training session where she preparing for the Petro SA Marathon in Eastern Cape.

She attested that the Gold Coast experience is one she would never forget.

“This was my first time competing in a competition of this magnitude and I knew that it was not going to be easy. It was such a big experience for me and I think it has helped me a lot as an athlete I don’t think I’ll ever forget it.

“But I am happy because at least I managed to finish the race and record my personal best of 36:55:77 although I was disappointed to finish last,” Chaka said.

Chaka who has moved back to Mokhotlong District from Maseru said her experience at the Commonwealth Games proved to her that local athletes are always ill prepared.

A mother to a 10-year old daughter said the country needs to invest more in the athletes if anything significant was to be achieved.

“Preparations are crucial if athletes are expected to perform well and that is where we fail as a country because we only get a short time to prepare and also few competitions. This is different in other countries.

“The athletes that I competed with had participated in several competitions in the run up to the Commonwealth Games but as for me I only started preparing a few months prior to the games,” Chaka said.

The towering runner also said she suspects her performance at the Commonwealth Games was dented by the fact that she was used to running marathons instead of track events.

Besides that, she said the time difference between Lesotho and Australia also affected her.

“I had not run track events for a long and my body had adjusted to road races. I had so little time to adjust and it backfired as I also ran in the 5000m race and performed badly.

“I also think the time difference between Lesotho and Australia played a part because I did not have enough rest. I felt it in my body that I had not adjusted well because Australia is eight hours ahead of Lesotho,” she said.

Now that the Commonwealth Games water under the bridge, the self-driven athlete says she is now preparing for a race in August in Eastern Cape.

“I cannot hold on to something that has passed. For me running is my life I indeed need to move on. Now the focus is on the August Marathon in Eastern Cape.

“I participated in a half marathon in Tsikoane last month where I came third and I am also eyeing the South African Championships in July this year as still part of my preparation for the August Marathon.

“I have been living in Maseru for the past two years but now I have moved back to Mapholaneng, Mokhotlong because I have noticed that the high altitude high altitude in the mountains gives me added advantage,” Chaka said.

She however, emphasised the need to prepare early for international games. She said late preparation was always embarrassing for the athletes.

Chaka also touched on the issue of late preparations saying it was about time that those in charge understand how important it was that the teams are prepared in time to save athletes dignities.

“Other nations have already started preparing for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics but we have not. From experience, we may start late in 2019 which would be too late.

“Of course, we have financial challenges as a country but those in charge need to know that running is how we make a living. Underperforming due to lack of preparations tarnishes the image of the athlete and this needs urgent attention because it has been happening for a long time,” Chala said.

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