SA athletes battle against heat

The pressure of qualifying for the Beijing Olympics for world indoor long-jump champion Khotso Mokoena is over after he carded a leap of 8,24m with his first dash at the board on the first day of the South African Track and Field Championships at Coetzenburg on Friday.

This was, however, not good enough for the gold medal. Western Province’s Keenan Watson also bettered the standard of 8,2m with a leap of 8,26m, only to have the dream of a trip to Beijing wrenched away from him when the fickle Cape Town weather pushed the wind reading up to 2,7, making his jump illegal.

The vagaries of athletic laws state, however, that the result stands and Watson was awarded the national title ahead of Mokoena, with Yaw Fuso-Amoah third with 7,89m.

The almost unseasonal heat put paid to any chance of Rene Kalmer making the Olympic qualifying standard in the 5 000m.

Kalmer cruised to her 22nd national title in a slow 15:55,72, which was well short of the qualifying standard of 15:09 in the 5 000m, with Western Province’s Zintle Xiniwe finishing a distant second (16:20,89) and Pretoria’s converted road athlete Annerien van Schalkwyk third in 16:25,25.

“For me this was just a toughen-up run for the rest of the season.
The heat and the fact that I spent so much time running on my own meant I had to abandon any idea of making the Olympic standard. The rest of my year depends on what happens in the 1 500m tomorrow [Saturday].

“If I don’t make the standard, I am not going to slit my wrists. I will probably go to the US and try there,” the 27-year-old teacher said.

The lack of an incentive to compete for an Olympic berth was evident as big Free Stater and African hammer-throw champion Chris Harmse fell well short of the required “A” standard of 78,5m with a throw of 75,62m.

Although this is further than the “B” standard, Harmse, who has consistently refused to compete on the Sabbath for religious reasons, will not travel to Beijing as the hammer-throw final is on a Sunday.

Boland’s Johan Kruger threw 56,38m, leaving him a country mile short of providing any real competition for the Free Stater, with Clinton Williams third with 53,2m.

There would seem to be a bit of light at the end of the women’s national hammer-throwing tunnel with a junior record going to Marizette Badenhorst with a throw of 51,4m.

A youth record was achieved by her second-placed teammate Nadia Botha (49,71m). Karin le Roux took the bronze with a 49,1m effort.

Juan van Deventer came agonisingly close to the Olympic “A” standard of 3.36,6 in the first of the 1 500m heats when he was involved in a ding-dong battle with Dunisani Hlaselo. Van Deventer clocked 3:38,08 and will line up as favourite for Saturday’s final.

The pole-vault title turned out to be a bridge too far for veteran Riaan Botha. The multiple national champion vaulted 5,2m in January this year, but since then his form has slumped and he dropped out attempting 4,7m.

Seventeen-year-old Cheyne Rahme would seem to be the new star on the horizon. He cleared 4,6m to take the silver medal behind JG Blignaut, who measured out at 4,8m, with third place going to Ruan van Wyk (Boland) on 4,6m.

As expected, Janice Joseph won the women’s long jump but failed to meet the Olympic “A” standard of 6,72m after carding an indoor career best of 6,51m in Valencia following a season best of 6,63m outdoors at the Ekurhuleni meet.

Joseph measured out at 6,62m to relegate junior Christy Coetzee to the silver placing with her leap of 5,92m. Bronze went to Delia Smith who jumped 5,85m.

New York Marathon winner Hendrick Ramaala showed why he is one of the potential Olympic medallists. Running the 10 000m as training for the upcoming London Marathon, he was forced to time-trial alone for the last 10 laps against the wind. He nevertheless still clocked 28:53 for his umpteenth national championship title.

He was followed home by Samuel Tsosane at 29:16 and David Gedebe at 29:23.

Janus Robberts of Boland won the shot put with a heave of 19,09m. The silver went to Hannes Hopley at 18,2m and the bronze to local lad Ross Jordaan, who threw 18,03m.

Day two’s programme started at 6am on Saturday with the finals of the women’s 20km walk. The men started their walk at 7.15am.—Sapa

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