Modern Athlete Magazine Issue 124, November 2019 | Page 52

TRACK & FIELD Decisions, Decisions… T wo years ago, in 2017, Louzanne decided she would focus on the marathon for the 2020 Games instead of trying to qualify on the track in the 5000m, as the classic 42.2km is her favourite event, whereas the 5000m was no longer on the cards due to too few athletes competing in her T11 para-athletics class in that event. That saw her target the Soweto Marathon as her debut marathon, and she was ambitious enough to even chase the World Record in her class, the 3:13:15 run by China’s Zheng Chi in 2016. – BY MANFRED SEIDLER 52 ISSUE 124 NOVEMBER 2019 / Knocked Back However, then came the Paralympic qualifier in London this year. “That was hard, and my ambitions to do the marathon in Tokyo took a bit of a knock,” says Louzanne. She finished in 3:33:22 and though she qualified, it was one of the toughest and most excruciating races she had run, despite the better conditions and easier course than Soweto. “I had ITB, so I ran with pain from around 18km or so,” she explains. With some doubts about the Paralympic marathon already in her mind, Louzanne’s thoughts were really thrown into disarray in late August when she clocked a personal best 4:51.65 for the 1500m on the track, at the Paris Para Athletics Grand Prix (the IPC version of the Diamond League). This took a massive 13 seconds off her previous best, and all of a sudden she was sitting with a tough decision to make. You see, this performance shot Louzanne to the top of the world rankings in her class in the event for 2019, and raised the obvious question whether she should continue to focus on the marathon as her 2020 The week of 7-15 November will see Dubai hosting the 2019 IPC World Athletics Championships. That week will also resolve a dilemma that South Africa’s Louzanne Coetzee has been battling with for almost two years. The visually impaired athlete had set her sights on running the marathon at the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo, and had qualified at the London Marathon in April this year, but a hard run, a change of coach and developments on the track have made her question that decision. She finished Soweto in 3:31, with the tough route and hot conditions being a far cry from the conditions Chi had faced when she set the World Record in London. While slightly disappointed with her time, Louzanne’s desire to run the marathon in Tokyo was well and truly alive. Then in 2018, at the Berlin Marathon, she finished just 26 seconds outside the World Record when she crossed the line in 3:13:41. Once again, the dream was still alive!