One-lap hurdler Cornel Fredericks was delighted to cap a superb 2014 triumph with another title, after returning to familiar territory at the IAAF Continental Cup in Marrakech at the weekend.
He strode to victory in 48.34 seconds in the men’s 400m hurdles final at the quadrennial continental team competition, crossing the line 0.20 outside his three-year-old personal best. “It was a great race for me,” Fredericks told the IAAF.
“I expected to be first at the finish here as I checked the track before, at the African Championships, and it looked fast and very comfortable for me.”
Khotso Mokoena, meanwhile, was also celebrating after smashing his own national triple jump record to close out a magnificent season. Having won Commonwealth and African gold in the triple jump, and the Diamond League series in the long jump, Mokoena took the silver medal on Sunday. His second-round effort of 17.35m improved his own South African mark, set in Durban in April 2005, by 10cm.
“I’m very pleased with the record. I’m also pleased with a second place and I feel truly blessed,” Mokoena said. The 29-year-old athlete, a former world junior triple jump champion, was relieved to have regained his best form in the hop, skip and jump, after focusing on the long jump discipline for the previous six seasons.
“A national record is what we expected from the last competition of the year, after coming back to my favourite event, the triple jump,” he said.
Mokoena’s training partner, long jump specialist Zarck Visser, confirmed he would take a break after leaping to bronze in Marrakech, pocketing his third international medal in a breakthrough season. “I put my all into giving Africa a medal. It is nice to compete for Africa,” Visser said. “I plan to go on a vacation for one month, after which I will start training for next season.”
Sunette Viljoen was the only other South African to earn a medal in an individual event, scooping silver in the women’s javelin throw. Sprinter Wayde van Niekerk also stepped on the podium, anchoring the African quartet to gold in the men’s 4x400m relay final.
The African squad ended third in the final standings, calculated on points, with Europe taking the Continental Cup crown ahead of the Americas. The Asia-Pacific team settled for fourth, and last, position.