#TuksAthletics: "At times during the current pandemic, it feels like we go one step forward and two backwards." — Rikenette Steenkamp

Posted on January 15, 2021

The South African 100m-hurdles record-holder, Rikenette Steenkamp's plans of maybe competing indoors in Europe got derailed when she tested positive for COVID-19.

The Puma-Tuks athlete has been confined to bed for the past week due to severe headaches and other flu-like symptoms. Her energy levels are also frustratingly low. She has also lost three kilograms in a mere five days.

According to Steenkamp, she started feeling sick when they got back from holiday.

"As athletes, we tend to be very aware when our bodies start to act up. Initially, I was only continuously tired. I started to take naps in the afternoons. It is something I have never done before. I decided to get tested when my symptoms got progressively worse. The result was no surprise.

"The most important thing I should focus on is to take it one day at a time as it is unsure how long my body will take recover from the virus. But I know myself. When I start to feel better, I will want to begin to train again.

"There was a moment when I thought I could go back to the track next week, but Wenda Nel convinced me that it would be foolish to do so. She told me that at most, I will be able to walk around the track at a real slow pace. Wenda ought to know. She tested positive for COVID-19 last year.

Nel is Tuks 400m-hurdler who won a bronze medal during the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.

Overcoming setbacks is nothing new to Steenkamp. In 2016 she had to relearn how to walk after undergoing an ankle operation. A year later she managed to dip under 13 seconds for the first time in the 100m-hurdles clocking a time of 12.99s in Ostrava.

In 2018 she was battling a hamstring injury. For nearly three months, she could hardly train. But once she got back on the track, she surprised everyone including herself. She set a new South African record running 12.91s in Prague. A few weeks later, during the La Chaux-de-Fonds Meeting in Switzerland, she ran 12.81s.

Last year Steenkamp twice managed to set a new South African indoor record in the 60m-hurdles. During a meeting in Glasgow, she ran a time of 8.29s during the heats. A week later in Madrid again during the heats, she ran 8.17s.

There is a lot of talk on whether the Tokyo Olympic Games will go ahead.

"It is mentally tiring for us as athletes. At times during the current pandemic, it feels like we go one step forward and two backwards. You want to train to be at your best for the Olympics, but there are no guarantees. We can only hope it is not going to be a repeat of last year with the Games being postponed again," the Tuks athlete said.

- Author Wilhelm De Swardt
Published by Bhekani Ndebele

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