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Khatala secures African championships spot

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Leemisa Thuseho

TOP marathoner ‘Neheng Khatala has booked her spot in the upcoming African Athletics Championships following her outstanding performance in the KwaZulu-Natal Athletics Championships last weekend.

Khatala 33:36 time in the 10km race earned her place in the African Championships.

The African Athletics Championships will be held in Algeria in June this year after they we postponed last year on the back of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The 33:36 time recorded in KwaZulu-Natal also saw Khatala breaking the long-standing national record of 36:29 set by veteran ‘Mamokete Lechela in 2002.

But despite breaking the national record and winning the race, Kahatala said she didn’t get the competition she wanted.

“There was no competition and I think I could have clocked an even better time if there was stiff competition because it is challenging record a good time when there is no pressure,” Khatala said.

This will be Khatala’s first time to compete in the African Championships which will also serve as a qualifying event for the 2021 Tokyo Olympics in July and August.

Khatala said she wants to qualify for the Olympics through marathon races instead of track races.

“If I perform well at the African Championships, I can qualify in the 10km track race but my target is to qualify via marathon races.

“I am happy to have set a new national record and I am willing to do more for my country. I wish the country can recognise athletes’ and invest significantly in it.”

She said qualifying for the continental competition was huge achievement for her career and she promised to continue working hard until she earns her debut Olympic qualification.

“Qualifying for the African Championships is an achievement and it will help me gain some experience as I am likely to battle against high-profile athletes from across the continent

“I want to achieve more because I believe that will also inspire younger athletes,” Khatala said.

The KZN Championships also saw Lesotho’s Namakoe Nkhasi winning a silver medal in the men’s 5km race after clocking 14:06 while Toka Badboy finished third recording 14:08.

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