Updated: February 2, 2016


Eager to bounce back from an injury-rattled 2015 campaign, Mapaseka Makhanya is confident of regaining her best form as she tackles the Olympic season and prepares to build on a promising start to her road running career.
“It’s my dream to represent my country at the Olympic Games, and I know I’m still capable of achieving that goal and getting back to my best,” Makhanya says.
“It’s always difficult to come back from an injury, and an Achilles problem can be one of the worst, but I’m feeling strong again and I want to show I’ve got more potential.”
A former track specialist, Makhanya reached the 800m semifinals of the 2007 World Student Games in Bangkok and took seventh place in the 1 500m final at the 2007 All Africa Games in Algiers.
In 2010, she finished seventh over two laps at the African Championships in Nairobi, and reached her peak on the track that season by setting personal bests over 800m (2:03.36) and 1 500m (4:08.18).
Makhanya’s true potential was not really displayed, however, until she made a switch to the road in 2013.
The 30-year-old mother from Soweto took the domestic road running scene by storm, winning the Spar Women’s Grand Prix 10km series and clocking a personal best of 32:49 in Durban.
On the back of that success, making another big leap in distance, Makhanya won her debut 42km race at the 2013 Gauteng Marathon, crossing the line in an impressive high-altitude time of 2:37:06.
The following year she returned to the Gauteng race, taking second place and chopping half a minute off her personal best.
Having focussed on domestic races in the early stages of her road career, Makhanya turned out in her first international marathon in Hannover last season, grabbing third spot in 2:31:02 and climbing to fifth position in the all-time SA rankings.
After picking up an Achilles injury in that race, she showed the first real signs of recovery when she ended fourth at the Shanghai Marathon in November in 2:37:21, dipping well under the qualifying standard for the Rio Olympics.
With a number of her compatriots also targeting one of three available spots in the 42km team for Rio, Makhanya will compete in another marathon in Europe over the next few months, in an attempt to improve her standing in the qualifying race led by Christine Kalmer (2:33:43).
She will also turn out in the Spar 10km series, aiming to challenge for the overall title once again.
“I had a difficult season last year because I was unable to train as hard as I usually would, and my training was disrupted for periods because of the injury,” Makhanya said.
“It has fuelled my dream of going to the Olympics, and if anything I want it even more now, after all the troubles last year.
“I want to be the best marathon runner I can be, and I want to be competitive at that level and carry the national flag with pride. I still believe that’s within my capabilities.”