Tjoka still promising



MASERU- Veteran athletics coach Chaplin Mpomane has his fingers crossed that Lesotho’s most successful long-distance female runner ’Mamoroallo Tjoka will deliver notwithstanding that she appeared second at last Saturday’s Two Oceans Ultra Marathon in South Africa.

Tjoka, 34, clocked in 3:38:23 behind South Africa’s Gerda Steyn who was the first to cross the finish line in 3:31:29 in the 56 km race. Mpomane said his protégé is still on fire and in perfect shape for this year’s IAAF World Championships and next year’s Olympic Games. The two global competitions are Tjoka’s main focus with Mpomane saying her performance in last week’s Two Oceans Marathon must not be considered as a dismal showing.

“She did well because she was competing at a high level against tougher contenders and she was the only female marathoner from Lesotho,” Mpomane said. “I told her that since she was the only one from Lesotho in the 56 km female section, she must focus on the race and not her competitors.” The World IAAF World Championships will take place from September 27-6 October in Doha, Qatar, while the Olympic Games are set July 24 – August 9 next year in Tokyo, Japan.

Tjoka has never collected a medal from either the World Championships or Olympic Games. Mpomane therefore aims to ensure that she does not return empty-handed from the global races. He said she plans to retire soon from running for her country to focus on her own professional career. “I want her to win a medal for the country at the world’s biggest races before she retires and focus on professional athletics. She is in good shape to achieve that with the experience she has.”

Mpomane said Tjoka needs to be highly disciplined, adding she ran without any pressure which was something that put her at an advantageous position ahead of the World Champs and Olympic Games. “Discipline is important to all athletes, so she manages to maintain that discipline, everything will be a lot easier for her,” Mpomane said. In June both Tjoka and Jobo Khatoane will represent Lesotho in a marathon in Ireland after which Mpomane said she would focus on improving her speed by competing in 10-kilometre races.

“I am confident that she will be in a good shape after that and she will need to run 10-kilometre races in order to improve her speed ahead of the World Champs.”

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