Monday, 17 July 2017 13:40

SA's teen high jump world champ: I've proved people wrong

High jumper Breyton Poole made South Africa proud this weekend as he clinched the gold medal in the boys' high jump final at the IAAF World U18 Championships in Nairobi.

Despite being a full head shorter than his opponents at just 1.72m, the 17-year-old Capetonian cleared an impressive 2.24m to win gold.

He cleared 2.20m with his second attempt, 2.22m with his first jump and 2.24m with his third, according to the IAAF.

WATCH: SA's Breyton Poole on his lead performance

“I was patient from the beginning and this made me more confident as the event went on,” Poole is quoted as saying by the IAAF.

“I feel great having set two best heights in the same competition.”

Pool said he has proved people wrong who thought he was too short to win.

“They thought I wouldn’t be able to adapt to it because I was so short.”

Meanwhile, sprinters Sokwakhana Zazini and Zeney van der Walt from South Africa claimed double gold in the boys and girls 400m hurdles finals.


Team SA top of table at U18 champs

The national youth team produced one of South Africa's best ever days at a major international championship on Saturday, raking in three gold medals and a bronze on the fourth day of the IAAF World Under-18 Championships in Nairobi, Kenya.

In the morning session, high jumper Breyton Poole had the crowd on its feet as he added six centimetres to his personal best to earn the boys high jump title.

Standing at 1.72m, the diminutive athlete cleared 2.24m to earn a comfortable victory, just one centimetre short of Jacques Freitag's 18-year-old national youth best.

"I was patient from the beginning and this made me more confident as the event went on," Poole said. "I feel great, having set two best heights in the same competition. Previous coaches discouraged me because of my height and I decided to work harder. Today I proved them all wrong."

Later, in the evening session, Sokwakhana Zazini and Zeney van der Walt added double gold in the boys and girls 400m hurdles finals.

Zazini, who holds the world youth best of 48.84 seconds, blew the field apart as he scorched to a commanding victory in 49.27.

He finished almost three seconds clear of his nearest opponent, living up to the hype as the pre-race favourite.

"This is the moment I have been looking forward to. The whole world and South Africa was watching so I had to deliver," Zazini said.

"Getting out the blocks quickly was the whole plan and I followed the coach's instructions. I thank all who helped me reach this point."

Van der Walt delivered a gutsy performance to snatch gold from Jamaican favourite Sanique Walker.

Though Walker held a convincing lead at the start of the home straight, she clattered into the final hurdle and Van der Walt launched a stunning late attack, dipping on the line to win by 0.04 in 58.23.

"I did not expect to win," Van der Walt admitted. "I just kept on pushing till the end because I still had the energy. I'm very happy."

Closing out a fine day of podium performances for the team, Morne Brandon added a crucial bronze medal in the boys discus final to add to the nation's growing medal count.

Brandon launched a 58.34m heave with his final attempt to reach the bottom step of the podium.

Compatriot Jonathan de Lacey, who took bronze in the shot put earlier in the week, settled for 10th position with a best effort of 54.02m.

"I am very happy to win a medal today," Brandon said. "I want to thank my teammates for the support and congratulate my fellow medallists."

In the girls 1500m final, Nicole Louw took fifth place against a strong East African contingent in 4:33.40, and Lyndi Roelofse finished seventh in 4:36.34.

“I’m so proud of my performance because I walk out of here with a top-eight finish, when I got a surprise inclusion in the team. I gave it my best for South Africa and I’ll work my way back,” said Louw.

Roelofse said: “I want to thank God, ASA and the people of South Africa for the work well done in bringing me here. It’s an amazing experience and I am proud to be part of Team SA because the way we are supporting each other in camp, is amazing.”

Tharina van der Walt, who was fourth in the discus earlier in the week, ended ninth in the girls hammer throw final with a best attempt of 61.45m.

In the preliminary rounds, sprint sensations Tshenolo Lemao and Retshidisitswe Mlenga progressed safely through to Sunday's boys 200m final.

Mlenga, who earned 100m silver earlier in the week, clocked 21.10 to win his semifinal, while Lemao, the 100m champion, also secured victory in his race in 21.30.

Jana van Schalkwyk progressed automatically to Sunday's javelin final, delivering a personal best effort of 53.69m with her first attempt in the qualifying round.

The SA 4x400m mixed relay team took second place in their heat in 3:28.87, also advancing to the final on Sunday.

With one day of competition remaining, the national squad was placed top of the table with eight medals (four gold, two silver and two bronze.


SA high jumper Poole soars to new heights

South African high jumper Breyton Poole set an under-18 leading 2.24m to win gold on the penultimate day of the IAAF U18 world athletics championships on Saturday.

The 17-year-old Cape Town-born, who cleared a personal best 2.18m at the South African youth championships in April, pushed five of his rivals to achieve their career bests.

"I was patient from the beginning and this made (me) more confident as the event went on," said Poole, who was well clear of second-placed Chima Ihenetu of Germany who jumped 2.14m.

"I feel great having set two best times in the same competition."

The current World under-18 record of 2.28m was set by Huang Haiqiang of China in Marrakesh, Morocco in 2005.

Poole is the second South African to win the world title after compatriot Jacques Freitag clinched the first world youth champion title in 1999 in Bydgoszcz, Poland.

South Africa claimed two more golds in the boy's and girl's 400m hurdles to move to the top of the medals standing with a total of eight medals - one ahead of overnight leaders Cuba.

Defending champions United States pulled out of the championships, along with six other top nations citing security concerns.


Team SA take medal standings lead at World Under-18 champs

 

The national youth team produced one of South Africa's best-ever days at a major international championship on Saturday, raking in three gold medals and a bronze on the fourth day of the IAAF World Under-18 Championships in Nairobi, Kenya.

In the morning session, high jumper Breyton Poole had the crowd on its feet as he added six centimetres to his personal best to earn the boys High Jump title.

Standing at 1.72m tall, the athlete cleared 2.24m to earn a comfortable victory, just one centimetre short of Jacques Freitag's 18-year-old national youth best.

"I was patient from the beginning and this made me more confident as the event went on," Poole said. "I feel great, having set two best heights in the same competition. Previous coaches discouraged me because of my height and I decided to work harder. Today I proved them all wrong."

Later, in the evening session, Sokwakhana Zazini and Zeney van der Walt added double gold in the boys and girls 400m hurdles finals.

Zazini, who holds the world youth best of 48.84 seconds, blew the field apart as he scorched to a commanding victory in 49.27 seconds.

He finished almost three seconds clear of his nearest opponent, living up to the hype as the pre-race favourite.

"This is the moment I have been looking forward to. The whole world and South Africa was watching so I had to deliver," Zazini said.

"Getting out the blocks quickly was the whole plan and I followed the coach's instructions. I thank all who helped me reach this point."

Van der Walt delivered a gutsy performance to snatch gold from Jamaican favourite Sanique Walker.

Though Walker held a convincing lead at the start of the home straight, she clattered into the final hurdle and Van der Walt launched a stunning late attack, dipping on the line to win by 0.04 in 58.23.

"I did not expect to win," Van der Walt admitted. "I just kept on pushing till the end because I still had the energy. I'm very happy."

Closing out a fine day of podium performances for the team, Morne Brandon added a crucial bronze medal in the Boys Discus Throw final to add to the nation's growing medal count.

Brandon launched a 58.34m heave with his final attempt to reach the bottom step of the podium. Compatriot Jonathan de Lacey Lacey, who took bronze in the Shot Put earlier in the week, settled for 10th position with a best effort of 54.02m.

"I am very happy to win a medal today," Brandon said. "I want to thank my teammates for the support and congratulate my fellow medallists."

In the Girls 1 500m final, Nicole Louw took fifth place against a strong East African contingent in 4:33.40, and Lyndi Roelofse finished seventh in 4:36.34.

"I'm so proud of my performance because I walk out of here with a top 8 finish, when I got a surprise inclusion in the team. I gave it my best for South Africa and I'll work my way back," said Louw.

Roelofse said: "I want to thank God, ASA and the people of South Africa for the work well done in bringing me here. It's an amazing experience and I am proud to be part of Team SA because the way we are supporting each other in camp, is amazing."

Tharina van der Walt, who was fourth in the Discus Throw earlier in the week, ended ninth in the Girls Hammer Throw final with a best attempt of 61.45m.

In the preliminary rounds, sprint sensations Tshenolo Lemao and Retshidisitswe Mlenga progressed safely through to the Boys 200m final on Sunday.

Mlenga, who earned 100m silver earlier in the week, clocked 21.10 to win his semi-final, while Lemao, the 100m champion, also secured victory in his race in 21.30.

Jana van Schalkwyk progressed automatically to Sunday's Javelin Throw final, delivering a Personal Best effort of 53.69m with her first attempt in the qualifying round.

The SA 4x400m mixed relay team took second place in their heat in 3:28.87, also advancing to the final on Sunday.


SA junior sprinting is superb

“Sitting watching the Under-18 World Championships and I am just amazed at how South Africa is killing it,” read a message from a Jamaican journalist.

I responded with typical South African modesty that our sprinting was looking healthy. “Extremely healthy, at all levels. Reminds me of us (Jamaica) eight years ago,” said Ricardo Chambers, a renowned athletics journalist I met at the 2015 World Youth Championships in Cali, Colombia.

His sentiment is a growing one as South African sprinting is making a mark globally at student, youth, junior and senior level.

Earlier this week Tshenolo Lemao and Retshidisitswe Mlenga raced to 100m gold and silver respectively in the boys 100m final at the IAAF World U18 Championships in Nairobi, Kenya.

They became South Africa’s first 100m sprint medallists in a world championship.

Since Anaso Jobodwana’s reached the 200m final at the London 2012 Olympic Games, South Africans have made regular appearances in major competitions.

The following year Jobodwana raced to the 100-200m double titles at the World Student Games, becoming the first athlete to achieve that feat.

The 2013 IAAF World Championships was a crucial year in South Africa’s sprinting revolution with Jobodwana finishing sixth in the 200m final, while future superstar Wayde van Niekerk and Akani Simbine made their debuts at the global showpiece.

At the 2015 World Student Games, Simbine won the 100m to defend South Africa’s title.

Later that year South Africa would get its big breakthrough at the Beijing World Championships with Van Niekerk claiming the 400m title and Jobodwana earning bronze in the half-lap sprint.

A month before the duo’s heroics in Beijing, Kyle Appel won the 200m silver medal at the 2015 World Youth Championships in Cali.

Last year Gift Leotlela finished second in the half-lap sprint at the World Junior Championships in Poland.

The pièce de résistance came at the Rio Olympic Games where Van Niekerk raced to the title in a new 400m world-record time of 43.03 seconds.

Simbine became the first South African male sprinter since Danie Joubert in Los Angeles in 1932 to make it into the final of the 100m dash at the global showpiece to add to the celebrations.

Which brings us back to 2017 where Van Niekerk set a new 300m world best, with Rio Olympian Clarence Munyai improving the junior mark.

South Africa has effectively won a medal at every major championship since 2013 from youth, junior, to senior level.

When Lemao and Mlenga won the 1-2 in Kenya, athletics statistician and coach Pierre-Jean Vazel asked whether South Africa was the new Jamaica.

Next month’s London World Championships would be revealing as Van Niekerk goes for the 200-400m double with Simbine also racing the 100m and 200m.

South Africa could claim medals over all three sprint distances, and perhaps even two podium finishes in one of those races.

That would certainly elevate South Africa to one of the leading sprinting nations in the world and who knows we might become the dominant force.


VIDEO: Happy birthday, Wayde van Niekerk!

He is arguably the greatest South African track and field athlete in modern history, and there’s still a lot more to come.

Wayde van Niekerk celebrates his 25th birthday today, July 15, and we felt it’s the right time to have a throwback to last August, when he took gold and destroyed Michael Johnson’s 400m world record in a sensational time of 43.03 seconds!

American Johnson’s 17-year-old mark was 43.18, and was one of those which most pundits thought would never be broken.

But they didn’t count on a young man who hails from Cape Town and now calls Bloemfontein home.

Van Niekerk had it in his genes, as his mother Odessa Swarts was a champion sprinter in the non-racial Sacos fold as well.

And, as fate would have it, it is also his fiancée Chesney Campbell’s birthday today! Campbell turns 25 as well, and the pair took to Instagram to wish each other happy birthday.

 

Happy birthday...... ?

A post shared by Chesney Campbell (@chesney_campbell) on 

Van Niekerk will next be in action at the Herculis meeting on July 21 in Monaco, and then of course the big one this year is the IAAF world championships in London from August 4-13, where he will compete in both the 200m and 400m.

 

Happy Birthday ???????

A post shared by Wayde van Niekerk (@waydedreamer) on 


Van Niekerk's Six Best Video Highlights

Twenty-five years ago today, God sent his second son Wayde Van Niekerk down to earth to bless us with his unabated talent.

Our very own golden boy has given us all some wonderful moments to enjoy, so what better present could we get him than a top-six countdown of his finest achievements?

6) Wayde nails a short distance sprint on home turf at the African Championships

Men’s 200m, Durban, 2016

Just before he made us lose our minds in Rio, Van Niekerk competed at the 2016 African Championships in Durban. He smashed the 20-second barrier for the 200m and, in a now legendary interview, claimed he was ‘waiting for his moment to come’.

5) You never forget your first… Wayde scores his maiden medal with bronze in Kazan

4 x 400m relay, Russia, 2013

This is where Wayde really kicked things into fifth gear. After a turbulent 18 months of injury rehabilitation and finding his best discipline, this run in Kazan set WVN on a now familiar path to podium places

4) Records tumble in the IAAF Diamond League:

Men’s 400m, Switzerland, 2017

This was a Diamond League record, continuing the magnificent 2017 Wayde’s having. He’s smashed his personal bests in the 100m, 200m, and 300m and this was another show of strength from the birthday boy.

3) History is made in Ostrava

Men’s 300m, Czech Republic, 2017

The Cape Storm (that nickname will catch on) made Michael Johnson look like he was a pensioner. The 300m is a rarity and isn’t run often, which will suit Wayde just fine as he is now the fastest man to ever run in this race: Phenomenal!

2) The King of Beijing claims his first gold at the World Championships

Men’s 400m, China, 2015

He got his first taste of gold in China, and his appetite has been ravenous ever since. This was the first time he had truly stamped his authority on the sport, and he never looked back.

1) The day the entire world was blown away by our boy.

Men’s Olympic 400m, Brazil, 2016

Where were you when Wayde took the Olympic gold? Who did you celebrate with, and how proud were you? I’ll let you reflect on all these wonderful questions as this fan footage perfectly captures the victory, and what it meant to South African spectators.

Happy Birthday, champ!