Simon Magakwe (RSA) (Getty Images ) © Copyright
General News Pretoria, South Africa

Olympic qualifications secured as South African season draws to an end

After months of attempts Wenda Theron provided the performances of the Yellow Pages SA Open Championships at Pretoria (4 & 5 May), which effectively rounded off the domestic season in South Africa.

Taking the lead from the blocks in the 400m Hurdles, Theron targeted the Olympic qualifying time in the heats.

"I felt great and the weather was perfect so I had to go for it. It was more important to reach the qualifying time than to win the SA Open Championships," said Theron, who notched up a 55.37 second victory ahead of Oarabile Babolai (BOT) and Tasabih Elsayed (SUD) who also progressed to Saturday’s final care of their 58.92and 59.78 performances.

"I have to learn to run two hard races consecutively as that is how they do it at big international events," continued the Pretoria based hurdler who had been edging closer to the required 55.50 qualifying time all season.

It was a needless worry for the Tukkie athlete who further reduced her personal best to 55.36sec and comfortably won the final ahead of Janet Lawless (56.44) and teammate Anneri Ebersohn (57.86). This gave Theron a 22-victory streak on South African soil.

In terms of the SA Olympic Committee ruling, the only challenge remaining for the 23-year-old is to post a qualification time in an international meeting. Theron plans to go international at the end of May before competing in the African Championships in Benin from 27 June to 1 July.

Magakwe remains in good form

10.18 would appear to be the favoured figure for Simon Magakwe who once again was spot on the mark in the 100m final on the opening day. Magakwe, whose South African record equalling 10.06 performance at the SA Student Championships on 27 April initiated talk of a sub 10 second record, has qualified four times in the last month. Johan Rossouw's 100m sprint record has stood for 24-years

Thuso Mpuang won the 200m sprint in 20.44 seconds ahead of Roscoe Engel (20.64) adding a second qualifying time to his performance in the Potchefstroom Yellow Pages event in March. Lebogang Moeng finished third in 20.98.

Mozambican Kurt Couto missed the 49.50 qualification mark in Friday’s 400m Hurdles heats, but made no mistake when he ran his second fastest time ever in Saturday’s final taking line honours in 49.24.

Although Namibian Tjipekapora Herunga won the flat 400m in 51.24sec, Tsholofelo Thipe proved her 51.52 clocking last month was no fluke. The Potchefstroom athlete improved to a 51.47 with Estie Wittstock clocked 52.69sec to finish third.

Tipe, who has already also run a qualifying time in the 200m, once again was first over the line in the longer sprint in 23.18 seconds, but both Namibians Globine Mayova and Tjipekapora Herunga went under the previous Namibian national record with Mayova recording 23.39 seconds in the runner up position.

Other notable performances saw long jumper Zarck Visser improve his personal best set up at the SA Student Championships (8.11m) with a second round leap of 8.15m. This leaves the Johannesburg student just 5cm short of the qualification mark.

18-year-old Nigel Amos blasted down the home straight to win the 800m in a new Botswana junior record of 1:46.21, well under the requirements for the World Junior Championships in Barcelona.

Previous 2010 SA champion and a member of the World Silver medal 4 x 400m team Ofentse Mogawane edged his first A-standard (45.30sec) in the men’s 400m where he was comfortable victor in 45.54 ahead of Isaac Makwala of Botswana and Sibusiso Sishi who closed the podium with 46.37.

The mix of International sprinters from Botswana, Lesotho, Mauritius, Namibia, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Swaziland and Zambia provided the opportunity for quartets tocompete in the various relay distances.

Although the South African teams won all four events it was the 4 x 100 of Hannes Dreyer, Simon Magakwe, Thuso Mpuang and Roscoe Engel who recorded 39.08 seconds to edge into the top eight in the world and move towards the London Olympic selection.

Norrie Williamson for the IAAF

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