University of Johannesburg runner Rachel Leistra joined colleagues Lesego Mpshe and Tyler Beling to take the half-marathon bronze medal at the World Student Games in Naples, Italy, this month.
The race was a team event, with the three times being added together to decide the final placings.
Leistra had been battling with leg injuries prior to the event and said she did not have any great expectations going to Naples.
“Unfortunately I felt the pain in my hip with hip flexion and on impact after 3km into the race and that was tough to block out,” she said.
“My goal was to just run the race as best as I could, determined to give it my all despite this setback.”
On a fast and flat course, she added that they all just ran their own races, doing the best they could for the team.
“In the end, winning a team bronze medal was awesome.
“Even though I could not perform how I would have liked, I was so happy to have finished with the team prize, making the team and the coaches proud.”
The UJ biokinetics student, who was attending her first World Student Games, said she had learnt a lot from the experience.
“I was able to push through one of the toughest races I have run, which means I can only get better from here,” said Leistra.
“I learnt to ignore the voice in my head saying ‘stop you can’t do this’, even despite being injured.”
She paid tribute to the UJ medical team, who dedicated two days a week to assisting her.
“That helped me to be pain-free two weeks before the games and I was extremely happy.
“My short-term goals are to make sure I remain pain-free and become even stronger than before to prevent any injuries in the seasons ahead.”