South Africa’s Louis van Zyl, Tsholofelo Thipe, Thabo Mathibi and shot putter Janus Robberts sparkled at the Yellow Pages Series meet in Tshwane (formerly Pretoria) on Friday (30) night.
It came as a huge relief to athletes when the persistent rain that has soaked the South African capital in recent days gave way to a relatively warm evening. Sprinters took advantage of the favourable conditions to clock their fastest times this year
400m PB for Van Zyl
The best came in the day’s last event, when Van Zyl pulled away from Zimbabwean Talkmore Nyongani in the last 50 metres to win the 400m in a personal best of 45.82. Van Zyl’s previous best was 46.02. Nyongani opened his season with a decent 46.12, marginally ahead of last week’s winner Pieter Smith (46.19).
“This is an encouraging start to my season,” Van Zyl declared. “Last week in Potchefstroom, I paced the 800m race and achieved a personal best of 79 seconds for 600m. Clearly I have the endurance and speed. So next week (in eThekwini), I plan on making an impressive start to the season in the 400m Hurdles. This year I am determined more than ever before to crack the 48 barrier in the 400m hurdles.
Although drawn in the second string heats, new find Thabo Mathibi carried the day in both the 100m (10.50) and 200m (20.81). What’s more his 200m was a significant career best improvement from 21.29. “I think this will be my year. I just hope I stay healthy,” said Mathibi.
Africa men’s and women’s 200m champions Thuso Mpuang (20.82) and Isabel le Roux (23.33) had winning starts to their season. “This is the third best time of my career. Things are looking up for me,” said a confident Mpuang. He also won his 100m heat in 10.50.
“All I wanted was to get a good start. I am comfortable on this track as it is where I train,” said Le Roux. She had earlier finished runner up in the 100m in 11.77. The race was won by Tsholofelo Thipe in a career best of 11.46. She later comfortably prevailed in the 400m (53.27).
“So far my focus has been on power training and speed endurance. I just wanted to get a feel of the 400m. My aim is to run under 51 seconds. I was a bit disappointed finishing fourth at the Africa Championships in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) last year. It is not nice getting so close to winning a medal and coming away with nothing,” Thipe concedes.
Robberts near 20m
A rejuvenated Janus Robberts stayed on course to reclaiming his spot in the limelight of the world Shot Put event. The Africa and Commonwealth junior record holder in the event since 2001, Robberts improved on last week’s effort by 36 centemetres with a heave of 19.96m.
“This is my best throw in three years,” said a jovial Robberts. “I feel strong and really wanted to get it over 20 metres tonight. That is my target next week. It will be great to be back among the main contenders for a medal at a the World Championships, this time among the seniors.”
Hak enjoying southern training stint
Yvonne Hak (Netherlands) concluded her training sprint in South Africa with her second win in as many races during this series. This time she held off the spirited challenge from South Africa’s Phalula twins, Lebo and Lebogang to win the race in a modest 2:04.99. Lebo (2:05.08) and Leboganag (2:05.42) followed.
“I heard positive stories about taking a break from the European winter to train in Potchefstroom. It is a pleasant experience. I return to Amsterdam on Sunday knowing I have had a positive build up towards the European Indoor Championships in Turin (Italy) in March. I aim to better my outdoor personal best,” Hak said. She broke the two minute barrier in Athens (Greece) last year in a time of 1:59.98.
Mark Ouma for the IAAF