Athlete of the Week: Pieterse blazing her own trail at CF

Growing up in Free State Orange, South Africa, Lisa Pieterse had no idea that her mother was former Olympic runner Zola Budd.

Of course, the Carolina Forest sophomore also never dreamed of following in her famous mother’s footsteps in the sport either. But after moving to the Grand Strand four years ago, she too is on course for success.

“She didn’t tell us until I was in the first grade,” Pieterse said of Budd, a two-time world-record holder in the 5000 meters and a two-time World Cross Country champion. “I don’t think she wanted us to know but it was impossible to keep secret.

“She didn’t want me to be a runner. She didn’t want the same future for me, but she is extremely supportive of me because it is completely my decision. She runs with me and coaches me, but she never pushed me to run.”

After watching her mother run and train, Pieterse picked up the sport on a non-competitive level by running for fun. Although she is one of the top runners in the region, she continues to take the same approach.

Pieterse easily broke the 20-minute mark in the Coastal Carolina University Invitational, where her mom serves as a track coach. Her time of 19 minutes, 41 seconds shattered the school record for a sophomore, but Pieterse knows she is capable of more.

“I would like to get down to around an 18:30 this season,” she said. “I don’t know if I can do it because I can never seem to run the perfect race. Something always happens that sets me back, but that’s my goal.”

Rather than shoot for a particular finish, like a top five or top 10, Pieterse prefers to race against the clock and set her goals accordingly. A trip to the state meet will come only if her time dictates, not because it is a personal goal.

“I just want to improve my time and not worry about what place I finish,” Pieterse said. If I win, that’s great, but my focus is just on getting better and enjoying myself and the sport.”


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