Sprint ace puts injury woes behind him

Roto emerges from oblivion to chase sub-10 seconds dream

Thando Roto of AGN in the heats of the meens 100m during the day 1 of the 2019 Sizwe Medical Fund & 3SixtyLife ASA Senior Track & Field and Combined Events Championships at Germiston Athletics Stadium on April 25, 2019 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Thando Roto of AGN in the heats of the meens 100m during the day 1 of the 2019 Sizwe Medical Fund & 3SixtyLife ASA Senior Track & Field and Combined Events Championships at Germiston Athletics Stadium on April 25, 2019 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Image: Roger Sedres/Gallo Images

Almost forgotten sprinter Thando Roto will be one of the headline acts at the Central Gauteng Athletics (CGA) track and field league meeting at the Boksburg Stadium tomorrow (9am).

The 25-year-old sprint ace will race in his second meeting of the season and he hopes to qualify for the Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan, in July.

Roto did not do that well in his first meeting of the year at the Athletics Gauteng North (AGN) at the University of Pretoria two weeks ago, clocking 10.34 seconds to secure a third-place finish. 

The qualifying time for Athletics SA men's 100m is 10.05 and he hopes to dip under 10 seconds. Roto recorded his personal best of 9.95 in the 100m event back in 2017.

However, injuries have held him back and he only started running two weeks ago after a two-year hiatus.

“I am 100% fit and cannot wait for the CGA league meeting. I am racing early because I am in great condition and chasing an Olympic qualifying time. I hope to finish the race without niggles and injuries at the CGA meeting," Roto told Sowetan yesterday.

Roto graduated with a Sports Science degree from the University of Pretoria in 2018. He said he endured a frustrating period during his injury, but never lost hope. “Emotionally, it was draining. I kept on fighting and I am back," said Roto.

He said racing during the Covid-19 pandemic is proving to be a challenge, but he is slowly getting used to it. “It’s completely different, but we have to accept it. It is all about the performance and results. No kissing, high fives, and shaking of hands at the finish line. You cannot take a shower after racing. You cannot watch other races, as you have to go home straight after your event. You must bring your food, juice, water and there is no socialising after the event," He added.

Other big names that have confirmed their participation at the CGA event are Phalula twins Lebo and Lebogang in the 5000m. The 400m sensation Lythe Pillay will look to win his second event in Boksburg this season.

Zinzi Xulu will go into the sandpit for the first time in over a year in the women's triple jump. “I am happy and nervous to be back, I've been dreaming about this moment since lockdown started," said Xulu.

The entries for tomorrow's event have been sold-out and it would not exceed 250 runners as per the Athletics SA guidelines.

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