Positive mental state important, believes Pakiso

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Pakiso Mthembu in action.
Photo: Michael Scott

The COVID-19 pandemic has taught Pakiso Mthembu, national cross-country star runner, that there is more to life than sport. 

Mthembu, the Kovsie Sportsman of the Year in 2019, spent the time with family in Tweeling. According to him, he coped well and didn’t find it too stressful, as he kept his mental state positive. 

“What I have learned is that there is more to life than just sport, and that you must have a backup plan ready,” he said.

Staying focused

This Education student on the Qwaqwa Campus had to deal with disappointment. He was one of three Kovsie athletes chosen for the national student team to the World University Cross-Country Championships scheduled for early March. It had to be postponed.

“That news hit me very hard as I was completely ready for it, but we had to live with it and stay absolutely focused. I continued to jog a bit, but not as intensive as I would have liked. Training without knowing when and where you are going to race, is quite frustrating. It tackles you mentally."

“Furthermore, I watched documentaries, read books, and watched some athletic races from the past during the lockdown period.”

“There is more to life than just sport
and you must have a backup plan ready.”

New personal best time in the 10 km

He had a couple of goals for the athletic season that was cut short. He met one of those. “It was to qualify for the ASA Track and Field Champs and to medal at the meeting, to make the World Student team – which I did – and to achieve a new personal best time in the 10 km.”

Mthembu, who prefers to run barefoot, had a very good 2019. He was South Africa’s second-best senior male athlete at the World Cross-Country Championships and came second in the senior men’s 10 km race at the SA Cross-Country Champs. He also earned a bronze medal at the USSA competition in the 10 000 m.


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