No gold, but SA athletes still shine in Poland

A bronze medal for Andre Olivier in the 800m and a new South African junior record in the 4x100m men’s relay were the highlights for the South Africans on the fourth day of the 12th World Junior Athletics Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland.

Olivier’s medal was South Africa’s second of the championships. The 18-year-old Potchefstroom student became the first South African athlete to win an 800m medal at these biennial championships at which South Africa competed in 1992 for the first time.

His time of one minute, 47,57 seconds was not what he had hoped for, but to win a medal was of equal importance.

The race was won by sensational new world junior record-holder Abubaker Kaki Khamis of Sudan, who achieved a comfortable victory in one minute, 45,6 seconds. It was clear from the start that Kaki had his focus on the gold medal and not a very fast time.

Kenyan Geoffrey Kibet finished second in a personal best of 1:46,23.

Wilhelm van der Vyver, silver medallist in the 100m final, anchored the South African 4x100m relay team to a brilliant new South African junior record of 39,59 seconds, running second to the speedy American team that clocked 39,37 seconds in the third of three semifinals.

The South African quartet bettered the new national junior mark of 40,16 seconds that was set at the recent South African junior meeting in Harare. As in Zimbabwe, the South African team comprised Johannes Mosala, Roscoe Engel, Patrick Vosloo and Van der Vyver. If all goes well they should be in for a very good chance to win a medal in Saturday’s final.

Apart from the relay final, Cheyne Rahme will feature in the pole-vault final and South Africa will also field a men’s team in the 4x400m relay heats.

South Africans Cornell Fredericks and PC Beneke, who also featured in the same final at last year’s World Youth Championships, both recorded personal best times in the 400m final.

Unfortunately they had to witness how the medals were grabbed away from them by winner Jeshua Anderson (48,56), another American, Johnny Dutch (49,25) and AR Valle of Cuba in 49,56. Anderson’s time was the third fastest to date by a junior. Fredericks was fourth in 50,39—ninth on the South Africa junior all-time list—while Beneke lowered his best to 50,78.

Willem Voigt, South Africa’s leading high-jumper of 2008, failed to proceed to the final after three failures at 2,14m, which was cleared by no less than 14 competitors.

For the rest of the South African team, things did not turn out too well.

Hurdles semifinalist Claudia Viljoen finished eighth in her heat in 14,08 sec and failed to advance to the final, while the women’s 4x100m relay team also failed to reach the final after a time of 46,37 sec in seventh place. Christy Coetzee was outclassed and eliminated from getting into the last 12 in the long jump with a best jump of 5,56m.

The championships end on Sunday.—Sapa

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