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Athletics | SA Track & Field

Gena Lofstrand © Gallo Images

Lofstrand attributes large portion of success to Prime HPI



17 year-old Kloof schoolgirl Gena Lofstrand has blasted her way on to the global athletics stage over the past year and, as one of the South Africa’s most promising 800 metre stars, is now aiming to impress at next year’s IAAF World Junior Championships once she has her matric year behind her.

Her final year at school will undoubtedly be one the matric pupil of St. Mary’s DSG in Kloof, KwaZulu-Natal remembers fondly after Lofstrand set the South African world of athletics alight with her consistent top performances throughout the country which ultimately saw the talented young star crowned 2013 South African 800m and 1500m national champion in both the junior and senior age categories.

“It has been a dream year for me! I cannot believe how things have worked out for me this year!” said Lofstrand. “I have always known I was making good progress over the past season or so but this year really has been exciting.”

Despite still being at school and having all the teenage pressures of staying on top of her academics, deciding what university to go to next year, etc. Lofstrand’s extraordinarily rapid progress through the ranks now sees her fast approaching a level whereby she will start challenging national track icon and London Olympic silver medallist Caster Semenya.

With running having been a part of Lofstrand’s life since she was in her final years of primary school, surprisingly the young star only decided to take her passion further just a couple of years ago and now attributes a large portion of her recent success to both her coach Victor Vaz of Fast Feet Academy in Durban and the team at the globally renowned training facility Prime Human Performance Institute at Moses Mabhida Stadium.

“I started taking part in cross country races at school when I was in grade 5 and only ran on the track for the first time in Grade 7,” explained Lofstrand. “I joined my coach, Vic (Vaz), at Fast Feet two years ago and then started working with the guys at Prime – particularly using the simulated altitude chamber – midway through 2012 and I cannot believe the progress I’ve made since then.

“I’ve been able to bring my 800m times down from a 2min20 in 2011 to a 2min03 in 2013, having dropped ten seconds this season alone!

Having struggled previously to remain competitive when competing at high altitude, the Durban-based Lofstrand’s countless hours on the stationary bike in Prime’s simulated altitude chamber at an altitude of 2000-3000m above seas level have also played a vital role in her ability to perform at northern venues.

“The work I’ve done in the altitude chamber has also been really important in my development recently because previously I used to really struggle in the back end of races that were held up country and would often run three or so seconds slower than I would on the coast.

“Now, having done a lot of training in Prime’s chamber, I am able to run very similar times to what I do here at home,” explained Lofstrand.

With her confidence levels sky high after claiming the senior women’s 800m national title earlier this year, to go with the junior spoils she claimed a little earlier, Lofstrand’s sights are now firmly set on next year’s major assignment – the IAAF World Junior Championships.

“I’ve got some pretty big goals and dreams for the future and next year’s World Championships is definitely a major focus for me at the moment.

“I don’t just want to go there and compete, I really want to medal and hopefully even try win gold!

“So all the hard work I’m putting in at the moment is with that in mind and every session at Prime really helps get me closer to achieving my goals.

While keeping as much of her career focus on the 2014 global contest, Lofstrand also has some big life decisions to make in the next little while too with a decision on where she will be furthering both her training regime and her studies being the major one.

“I’ve been lucky enough to receive a couple of offers from overseas universities where the facilities are unbelievable but ideally I’d like to stay at home,” explained Lofstrand.

“Now, with such a fantastic, world class facility like Prime being right across the road from Kings Park Athletics Stadium where my coach Vic – who importantly I know and trust – is based, this may even be possible!

“I haven’t decided on anything just yet but it’s just great knowing that at least now I have the option to consider staying at home and continuing my career whereas before Prime was built this wasn’t ever really a true possibility.



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