Tuesday, 11 July 2017 15:18

SA Track & Field: Nel leads the way for SA

Wenda Nel was in fine form on Sunday, taking third position in the 400m women's hurdles race at the IAAF Diamond League Meeting in London, England.

The African champion completed the contest in 54.73, dipping under 55 seconds for the third time this year, with Janieve Russell of Jamaica securing victory in 54.02.

Elsewhere, a number of other South African athletes delivered impressive performances on the European circuit over the weekend.

Carina Horn won the 100m women's sprint in 11.05 at the European Classic Permit Meeting in Sotteville, France, clocking the fastest time of her career, though the SA record holder was aided by a +2.6m/s wind. Zarck Visser again sailed over the eight metre mark, winning the men's long jump with a leap of 8.07m.

In Kortrijk, Belgium on Saturday, Justine Palframan won the 200m women's race in a personal best of 22.84 and also secured victory in the 400m event in 52.47. Showing consistent form. The World Student Games one-lap champion had clocked a 400m season's best of 52.30 in Celle Ligure three days earlier.

The next day, Palframan went on to win the 200m race at the Brussels Grand Prix in 23.07.

Lebakeng Sesele was triumphant in the 200m men's race in Kortrijk, achieving a personal best of 20.27 seconds, becoming the sixth athlete to dip under the ASA A-standard qualifying time in the half-lap dash for the IAAF World Championships in London next month.

He also finished second in the 100m men's race in 10.20, with the benefit of a +3.2m/s wind.

Gena Lofstrand continued her breakthrough international campaign, setting another personal best to win the 800m women's race in 2:02.05, edging out Winnie Nanyondo of Uganda by 0.01 in a late sprint.

In other events at the Brussels Grand Prix, junior athlete George Kusche won the 800m men's race in 1:47.98, while Jerry Motsau clocked 3:38.11 to finish fourth in the 1 500m men's contest, achieving his fastest time in nearly three years.

Making his comeback from an anti-doping ban, Victor Hogan won the men's discus throw with a 62.69m heave to secure victory by more than 12 metres.

SA Track & Field: Zazini aims for fast time at Youth Champs

Having set a world youth record in the 400m-hurdles earlier this season, Sokwakhana Zazini is looking forward to the IAAF World Youth Championships in Nairobi (12-16 July), where all competitors' eyes will be on him.

Not many athletes relish running with a "target" on their back, but it does not phase Zazini in the slightest. For the TuksSport High School learner, it is a case of "bring it on if you can".

He makes no secret that he plans on running a speedy time at the Championships, but because of a lower back injury scare, he decided to withhold from any bold predictions.

"Just say I hope to cause quite a surprise with the time I run in Nairobi. My legs will do the talking."

Zazini has reason to be confident. His world record time of 48.84s is nearly three seconds quicker than the second-placed athlete on the IAAF's under-18 rankings. At the South African Junior and Youth Championships, he was victorious in the 400m-hurdles as well as the 400m. His best time in the longer sprint is 46.20s, which is impressive as very few of the local senior athletes have managed to run a faster time.

Zazini has only lost once in local races this season. It was over 400m at the South African Senior Championships.

He will only compete in the 400m-hurdles at the Youth Championships.

Hennie Kriel, who coaches the Tuks-athlete, said what makes Zazini such an exciting prospect is his hunger to succeed.

“I have no doubt that he can be the best since he is a quick learner. We are still working on his hurdling technique to get it to be more efficient, but he is improving all the time,” said Kriel.

If Zazini has it his way, he would prefer to keep on competing in both the hurdles and the 400m, but if forced to choose, he will focus on hurdling.

"I love the 400m-hurdles challenge as it is never just about running as fast as you can. It is the thinking man's race. One moment's lapse of concentration and it could be all over.”

van Niekerk Hopes To Honor Bolt & Take Up Baton

JOHANNESBURG - Willing and able to be the heir to Usain Bolt’s throne as sprinting king, Wayde van Niekerk knows full well that the title won't be handed to him on a platter.
Speaking ahead of Thursday's Lausanne Diamond League meeting where he will be racing his first international 400m of the season, Van Niekerk said the year was about honouring Bolt for his track and field legacy.

“This year is really just time for us to go out there and thank him for what he had done for the sport and, obviously, as the new generation, I would like to take the baton and continue doing great things,” Van Niekerk said at an IAAF Diamond League press conference.

“Obviously, with that comes a lot of hard work and years, so I know for me right now is to focus on my performances and try and pull out good times as an athlete.”

The South African 400m world record-holder has been showing improvements in the shorter distances, racing to new personal bests in the 100, 200, and 300m so far this season.

Van Niekerk sprinted to a new South African 200m record in Kingston, Jamaica last month with a time of 19.84 seconds. He then shaved 0.04 off his 100m time of 9.94 in Velenje, 10 days later.

Last week he added another feather to his cap, when he broke another Michael Johnson world mark as he posted a new 300m world best of 30.81 seconds at the Ostrava Golden Spike meeting.

He knocked 0.04 off the previous mark Johnson set in Pretoria back in 2000.

Judging by Van Niekerk’s form over all three distances, the question of whether he would become the first man to dip below 43 seconds over the one-lap sprint has instead changed to when he will do it.

The South African has proven that one can expect the ‘ridiculous’ every time he backs into the blocks.

All eyes will be firmly on the clock in Lausanne, where he will give the best indication of his form ahead of his world title-defence in London next month.

“I feel quite confident on how I’ve been performing so far, I definitely know I am in good shape when it comes to every single distance below 400 metres, except the 400m,” Van Niekerk said.

“I’m excited to see what foot will come first and how I will do, but you know me by now, I will put my best foot forward and try and put a good show out there.”

Five more South Africans will be in action in the Swiss city, including Rio Olympics women’s javelin silver medallist Sunette Viljoen.

Viljoen has been flying below the radar and will be competing in only her fifth meeting of the season. Her season’s best of 63.49m at the national championships in Potchefstroom in April, ranks her 11th in the world and she would be looking to take some form into the world championships.

South African short-sprint specialists, Akani Simbine and Henricho Bruintjies, will have a second bite of the 100m cherry two days after racing in Budapest.

Simbine narrowly missed out on the top step of the podium when former world champion Justin Gatlin beat him to the line by 0.01 with Bruintjies missing out on a medal by the same margin.

South African record-holder Simbine posted his 14th sub-10 second time for his second place, with Bruintjies clocking a creditable 10.11.

The duo will again line up against Gatlin and fellow American Isiah Young, who finished third in the 100m race in Budapest.

The South African contingent is rounded off by one-lap hurdlers LJ van Zyl and Cornel Fredericks as they look to chase down the A-qualifying standard for the world championships.

They will have to dip well below 49 seconds to earn their places of the global showpiece with the standard set at 48.50.

Van Zyl has a season’s best of 49.29, while Fredericks’ fastest time this year is 49.27.