Star athlete aims for track dominance

Lara Johnson has not relaxed during the lockdown as she aims to improve on her track times when the action resumes.

Promising sprinter Lara Johnson, 19, feels she’s going to come out of the lockdown even sharper with the amount of work she’s been putting in.

The Capetonian has not slowed down her training even with the restrictions in place.

Johnson trains twice on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays with a home-based gym programme, and rests over the weekend.

The second-year Stellenbosch University BCom student hopes to represent the country at a couple of the international events next season and the IAAF Diamond League in a few years.

Johnson runs for team Maties, Boland, and has also represented the Western Province on numerous occasions, with her best highlight coming three years ago when she clocked a personal best of 12.09 seconds in her first race for the province in Durban.

She is ranked in the top two provincially, and in the top eight nationally.

“I won my semi-final and qualified for my first national final. I also ran my first personal best. I remember walking off the track in complete shock and being greeted by teammates.

“The adrenaline and hype of that moment will forever stay with me,” she said.

Johnson said she participated at inter-school and inter-house athletics at Pinelands North Primary and at Wynberg Girls’ High School, however, she never took the sport seriously, as she had provincial colours for lifesaving in beach
sprints.

In Grade 10 she played for the school’s netball first team.

While on an under-16 tour, she tore a ligament in the ankle and had to sit out the rest of the season.

Johnson said during her recovery, the athletics bug really bit and she made the decision to solely focus on the sport.

“I got introduced to athletics when I was about 10 years old. I ran at my inter-school and inter-house athletics for fun.

“The natural talent showed one day when I broke a record that had been standing for a few years with no training.”

Throughout her school career, she received numerous sporting awards, which included Sportswoman of the Year and Female Athlete of the Year.

She says one of her best achievements was making a comeback after being injured in 2017.

“In an adverse situation, I was able to bloom.

“I have many medals from the provincial level last year.

“I placed first in my province for my age group for 100m and since 2017 I have maintained top eight in the country and top two in my province,” she said.

Johnson said her journey required a lot of patience and hard work, on and off the field.

“My next goal is to run internationally. I’m very low-key about my goals.”