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Athletics | SA Track & Field

Malesela Senona © SuperSport

Senona is on a comeback trail after injury setbacks

Malesela Senona is at the moment South African athletics' forgotten sprinter, but it could change in the next nine months.

The 18-year old Tuks athlete has set his comeback sights set on next year's World Junior Championships and maybe representing South Africa at the Commonwealth Games in Australia.

"My primary goal will be to medal at the Junior Championships, but if I do get to qualify for the Commonwealth Games, I will jump at the opportunity to compete as I will gain valuable experience," said Senona who plans to race on 2 December at a meeting at Tuks.

At the beginning of the year, those who know predicted that he has what it take to be the next real deal and with just reason. In the last ten years the Olympian, Gift Leotlela, is the only South African to run a faster time than Senona as a youth athlete (under-18) in the 100 metres. Leotlela ran 10.20s while Senona's best is 10.34s.

In the 200 metres, only Kyle Appel (20.57s) has run a faster time than Senona's 20.74s set as an under 18-athlete.

But as of yet, Senona has yet to fulfil his real potential. It is due to no fault of his. Just when the season started in earnest, he was sidelined by hamstring injuries.

These setbacks led to Senona making a real mature decision, and that was to forego trying to compete for the rest of the season.

"I was looking at the bigger picture when I made my decision. I saw my injuries as a sign that I should perhaps go back to base training as I knew that would help me to become a stronger and hopefully faster athlete. At the moment it feels like I made the right choice.

"The reality is that as an 18-year old I got time on my side. I know what I want to achieve, but I don't need to get obsessed with running fast times as in 2020 I will only be 21 years. I only got to focus on making sure I do the basics right if I do the fast times will happen," said the first year Tuks student.

He prefers running the 200 metres because it is slightly more tactical. According to him, there is no margin of error over 100 metres which makes it a tough challenge.

It should be no surprise that Senona considers the Olympic sprint legend Usain Bolt to be a role model.

“What I love about Usain is the way he is able to overcome setbacks to perform at his best when it really matters. I also think Usain is the personification of real sportsmanship. One just had to watch how he reacted when he got beaten in the 100m final by Justin Gatlin. He made no excuses, just praised Gatlin."

Roger Federer who won the Australian Open and Wimbledon is another of Senona's heroes. He is quick to point out that Federer also took a break last year to properly recover from an injury and now he reaps the rewards.


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