The South Africa women’s team captured the bronze medal in the half-marathon race at the World Student Games in Naples, Italy, this month.
University of Johannesburg‘s Rachel Leistra joined Lesego Mpshe (Arizona) and Tyler Beling (Free State) in the team, with the three times being added together to decide the final placings.
Leistra was thrilled to come back with a medal as she had struggled with injury in the build-up to the event.
“I felt I was not where I could have been in terms of fitness and preparation due to these injuries occurring,” she said.
“Unfortunately I felt the pain in my hip with hip flexion and on impact after 3km into the race, but I just decided run as best as I could.”
Running in hot and humid conditions at 7am, the runners did three loops of a 6.9km course, ending on an uphill.
“It was a flat and fast course and we all just ran our own races, doing the best we could for the team,” she added.
“In the end, winning a team bronze medal was awesome and I was extremely happy.
“To win against the best of the best from around the world was a special feeling and I received great support from my teammates.”
The UJ fourth-year 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.
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.”