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SA stars on track for Delhi

By Mark Etheridge

South African athletes are both home and away over the next few weeks as they build towards October’s Commonwealth Games in Delhi, India.

Away will be Stellenbosch-based coach Mario Smith. He left South Africa on Tuesday with a small group of his athletes.

Among them will be national long jump and 400-metre hurdles champions Luvo Manyonga and Cornel Fredericks.

The group have two meetings lined up in Finland — Kuortane on 26 June and Espoo near the capital Helsinki on 30 June and then a meeting in Bottron, Germany on 9 July.

Many Finnish athletes train in South Africa during the harsh Nordic winter and over the years a reciprocal arrangement has developed. To this end, SA athletes often go and compete at the Finnish meetings, which are rather low-key and don’t have Grand Prix status, perfect for competition without undue pressure.

The group are also hoping to get invites to a meeting in Barcelona, Spain.

On the road running scene Rene Kalmer, who ran races in New York and Peoria, has passed up the chance to run the Peachtree 10km in Atlanta and now returns to the European track circuit.

“I was exhausted when I ran the Steamboat Classic in Peoria,” said Kalmer. “The travel just caught up with me. So I’ll stay another week in the US and I’ve got invites to two Diamond League races in Lausaunne, Switzerland and Paris, France. Both are early in July, a 3000m and a 5000m.”

Meanwhile Sunette Viljoen is back home in South Africa after her African record, set in Prague earlier this month.

She spent a week in the Czech Republic after her record, fine-tuning her skills with coach Terseus Liebenberg and a group of Czech athletes, including javelin legend Jan Zelezny.

Viljoen arrived back this week and there was more to celebrate as her son, Henretjie, had his fifth birthday.

Also on the javelin front and Ulrich Damon, who threw at the second Diamond League meeting of the season in Shanghai, will be in action at a local Potchefstroom meeting. He reckons he’s in good form right now with a season’s best of 75.17m and is expecting good things on Saturday.


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