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Got flaws? Find ’em and fix ’em, says Khotso Mokoena.
“The best way to approach your weakness is to identify it,” says Mokoena. He and his coach Hansie Coetzee are well acquainted with his kryptonite, and since October last year they’ve been fortifying his foibles.
“With me, I identify my hamstring as my weak spot so we make sure that every session we’re working on them and take a few minutes to strengthen them.”
“I make that my priority because I know that if they’re strong, they’ll be able to carry my body,” he says. “The hamstring is a small part of the body but it carries the whole body. If you tear your hamstring, your whole body can’t walk, you’re limping. But if they’re strong, your body stands.”
The hamstrings are sprinting muscles, he says. “All the speed comes from the hamstrings.”
Coetzee and Mokoena approach it with a variety of methods. “We did a lot of leg extensions, jumping drills and techniques like running upstairs and hill training sessions.”
The niggles that were holding Khotso back are now healed as he looks towards London. “They’re much stronger than they were at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.” However, it takes effort to keep these former weaknesses in the past tense.
“Put extra time on weakness, that’s very important,” he says. Extra time for Mokoena is not determined by daylight or temperature. “I even go to a point where I do some of those exercises at 9pm in my yard at home in the winter. I’m alone – dressed warmly – doing a few jumps just to make sure it gets stronger.”
Mokoena says that fixing his flaws has given him peace of mind when he goes into competitions. “Every time we fix these small problems – these niggles we get with our bodies as athletes – it gives you confidence that your body is responding well and is healing.”