Blind female athlete Louzanne Coetzee and her guide, Khothatso Mokone, will be attempting to improve the previous record time in this year’s Free State O.R. Tambo Marathon on Sunday (15/10). The race takes place in Bloemfontein.
Last year, Coetzee completed the 21,1 km race in 1:35 with the help of her equally capable guide, Mokone. Galvanised by last year’s record time, she has set a target to improve this year.
“I hope to end in the top ten on Sunday and, depending on the competition, possibly top five,” Coetzee says.
While the Free State Department of Sport promised to financially reward the best performers, Coetzee says the goal to go beyond her limits and improve her record was set long before.
The department has promised R10 000 in prize money to the first registered Free State athlete to complete the gruelling 21,1 km on Sunday.
The first registered Free State athlete to finish the 42,2 km will get R15 000, the first male to equal or finish under 2:10 will get R20 000, while the first female to equal or finish under 2:30 will get R20 000.
The first Free State athlete to complete the 10 km will go home with R5 000.
“I think finances are somewhat of an incentive, but that depends on the competition. I have to be realistic, my main target is time. I’m not sure about how tough the race will be, and the competition. I’m expecting a tough race in the sense that I want to test my own limits. An improvement on my times is also a motivator,” says Coetzee.
The talented runner says she was banking on her winning partnership with Mokone.
“Khothatso is often a motivation for me, especially when a race gets hard. Just his presence means a lot,” says Coetzee.
Mokone attributes their partnership to understanding and the essence of effective communication between them. “As a guide I just listen to Louzanne, what she aims at achieving with each race. I try to motivate her along the race. I’m normally stronger than her, but there is much more than physical strength that goes into a race – to keep us focused on personal improvement and to bring my A-game in every race,” says Mokone.
The unique partnership has seen the pair conquer the world and just recently Coetzee and Mokone received a special award in disabled sport. This was for Coetzee’s achievement at the Paralympic Games and records set such as in the 5 000 m (T11).
They were honoured at the KovsieSport Awards, held in collaboration with the Volksblad Free State Sport Stars Awards, on 27 September.