Star athlete takes aim at dominating the track

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 on her training even with the restrictions in place.

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

The second-year Stellenbosch University BCom Management Science 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 12.09sec 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.

“I would continue to break the same person’s record until I left primary school. That really showed me that I had a natural talent,” she said.

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

“One of my best achievements came out of being injured in 2017 to make my first nationals and rank in the top eight in the country. In an adverse situation, I was able to bloom.

“I have had 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 requires 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.

“I mean I work in silence, not a lot of people know I do track. But I think the biggest goal is to be that underdog that really shows up one day and is a force to be reckoned with,” said Johnson.