Wednesday, 12 July 2017 09:46

SA Track & Field: Steenkamp races to 4th victory in Europe

The South African 100m-hurdles-champion, Rikenette Steenkamp, raced to her fourth victory in Europe last night when she won in Gothenburg.

As has become the norm this season the wind again was a definite factor. The Tuks/HPC-athlete ran into a headwind of 1.2 meters per second winning in 13.14s at the Folksam Grand Prix-meeting.

Norway’s Isabelle Pedersen who is former youth and junior world champion was second in 13.20s. Pedersen’s season’s best time of 12.75s ranks her 19th on the IAAF-list. Karolina Koleczek (Poland) was third in 13.32s.

Steenkamp competed in five race in Europe winning four of them. The only time she did not win was in Ostrava, but that was her breakthrough race. The Tuks/HPC-athlete finished second in 12.99s dipping under 13 seconds for the first time.

Steenkamp rates last night’s race as one of her best performances.

“I am more than happy with the way my race played out. The weather conditions were cold and windy, and that does influence how you run. We have worked on a few things before the race. One of it was to be faster out of the blocks. It worked as I was off to a good start. The rest of my race was technically sound as well.

"I honestly think I had a better race than what my time indicates but then again I was not chasing a fast time I just wanted to win. It is a confidence booster knowing I am capable of beating athletes who have run sub 13 seconds times.”

Steenkamp will be returning to South Africa to prepare for the World Student Games in Taipei.

At the same meeting, Sibusiso Madikizela ran a time of 8:33.32 in the 3000m.

**Anaso Jobodwana won the 200m B-race in 20.77s at the Spitzen Leichtathletik in Luzern. In the 100m he ran a time of 10.41s. Henricho Bruintjies (Tuks) ran 10.46s.

Rynhardt van Rensburg was sixth in the 800m clocking 1:49.05; Antonio Alkana ran 13.34s in the 110m-hurdles to finish second.

In the 400m-hurdles Constant Pretorius (Tuks) ran a time of 50.58s in his race. LJ van Zyl (Tuks/HPC) ran 49.71s in the A-race and Le Roux Hamman (Tuks) 50.25s.

Dylan Cotter was sixth in the long jump with a best attempt of 6.90m.

SA Track & Field: Kusche off to a winning start in Brussels

George Kusche had a victorious start to his international campaign yesterday when he won the 800m at the Brussels Grand Prix-meeting in a time of 1:47.98.

The 19-year-old Tuks/HPC-athlete, who is not scared to take the racing to his rivals, described his race as an easy day at the office. Henrico Uys, also from South Africa, was fourth in a time of 1:48.67.

Justin Palframan won the 200m in 23.07 while Anuscha Nice finished second in the 800m running a time of 2:05.43.

Wenda Nel (Tuks/HPC) seems to regain her best form. At yesterday’s Diamond League Meeting in Brussels, she finished third in the 400m-hurdles in a time of 54.73.s. Her time is a massive improvement from last Thursday in Budapest when she 55.83s.

Nel was quite relieved afterwards, describing her performance as the confidence booster she needed.

“I needed this as it made me realise why I am running. It is to enjoy it. I am quite excited with how strong I felt towards the end of the race, but it was not a perfect race. There are still things that I need to work on to ensure that I will be at my best for the World Championships in London.”

Janieve Russell (Jamaica) won in 54.02, and Cassandra Tate (USA) was second in 54.59s.

Carina Horn (Tuks/HPC) had reason to be excited as well as disappointed over the weekend when she clocked 11.05s in the 100m at a meeting in Sotteville Les Rouen, France. It would have been a new South African record, but unfortunately, the wind from behind was blowing at 2.6 metres per second which amounted to 0.6/ms above the legal limit.

Advantage IAAF or CAS?

The governing body for global athletics, the IAAF, heads to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland at the end of the month, armed with evidence it hopes will be enough to overturn a CAS decision of 2015, and to reinstate its so-called “hyperandrogenism policy”.

The policy regulates the testosterone levels of female athletes with intersex conditions. The evidence, some of which was published in a prestigious sports science journal last week, showed that among 2 127 athletes in two athletics world championships women with higher testosterone levels performed between 1.8% and 4.5% better than women with lower testosterone levels in selected events.

This is, by way of background, the evidence that the IAAF was asked to find in July 2015, when CAS ruled in favour of an Indian sprinter, Dutee Chand, who was challenging the hyperandrogenism regulations.

Hyperandrogenism regulations were nonexistent before 2009, but were created after the disastrous handling of the Caster Semenya case in Berlin that year.

They required that intersex athletes like Chand (and, allegedly, Semenya, though she has not confirmed this), who usually have male chromosomes, internal testes and high levels of the male hormone testosterone, take hormone-suppressing medication.

This to reduce their testosterone levels below a cut-off level that had been determined and verified by research on female athletes.

The policy meant that from 2010 to 2015, all intersex athletes — nine were identified by the research in 2011 and 2013 — were taking hormones to keep their testosterone levels below a cut-off of 10 nmol/L. Then Chand won her CAS case.

From July 2015, testosterone suppression was no longer required. However, that was merely the first instalment. CAS did not dismiss the policy outright, but made its decision based on: (a) a lack of evidence for the benefit of testosterone in women; and (b) the discriminatory nature of applying such a policy to one group only, in the absence of evidence.

They gave the IAAF two years to gather that evidence, and here we are, for part two. If the IAAF is successful and CAS reinstates the hyperandrogenism policy, then a group of at least nine women identified in the course of the IAAF research — Semenya being one of them, allegedly — will have to undertake hormone therapy again. I’ve no doubt they will slow down substantially.

The big question for now, though is: Will the IAAF’s evidence be enough? On the face of it, I doubt it.

Unless the IAAF has more than this published study, I don’t think it will clear the bar that CAS set with its verdict.

CAS was very clear in saying that the advantage of intersex athletes needed to be large, outranking other genetic advantages. It referred many times in its decision to the typical 10% advantage that men enjoy over women, which reveals where its thinking is.

I don’t think that a 1.8% to 4.5% advantage in some events only will clear that bar and satisfy CAS’s thinking, though I may be wrong. A lot depends on how well both sides can argue the issue of what constitutes an advantage that, to borrow CAS’s words, “outranks other genetic advantages”.

I think CAS was wrong to get trapped into this “ranking’’- o - advantage thinking. People are quick to point out that all successful athletes have genetic advantages over their rivals — LeBron James is tall, Usain Bolt has fast-twitch muscles, Michael Phelps had a body perfect for swimming.

However, in my opinion, this misses a key point — we don’t attempt to regulate these genetic advantages by having categories for height in basketball, or muscle fibre type in running. We do, however, regulate the single-largest genetic advantage for performance — sex. It’s why separate categories exist for men and women.

Defending the integrity of women’s sport requires that this separation be protected. But CAS created a philosophical question and dilemma that science can’t answer to defend it.

Whatever decision is made, and I expect CAS to repeat its previous one, won’t put an end to this controversial issue — it has some far-reaching implications, most notably for transgender athletes.

However, it is the next instalment in the now longrunning intersex issue, and all eyes will be on Lausanne at the end of the month.