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Semenya set to run 400m
- Updated: March 9, 2011
By Mark Etheridge
A merry-go-round of event choices will see world 800-metre track champion Caster Semenya running the 400m at Thursday’s third and final leg of the Yellow Pages Summer Series at Bellville.
Semenya, on the comeback trail but still battling with lower back pain, had originally expressed interest in running a 3,000m event. This after winning the 800m in the first leg of the series and then failed to impress when she took fourth in the 1500m at Tshwane a week later. There was also talk of her running the 5000m at one stage.
The Limpopo star, long embroiled in a gender saga, after winning her world title in 2009, will be something of an unknown quantity over the 400m. In fact the IAAF website doesn’t even record has ever having raced the one-lapper. Whatever she does though, she’ll be keenly watched.
She comes up against a field that includes Alet van Wyk, second quickest over the country in the 400m last year, young Sonja van der Merwe, who represented South Africa at the recent Zone VI Games in Swaziland, as well as the ever-improving Zoe Engler, second at SA juniors last year and who finished fifth and fourth in the 400m at the first two Yellow Pages meetings this year.
Also there will be Namibia’s Tjipekapora Herunga so Semenya will have her work cut out if she’s going to stand tallest on the podium.
WIth new SA 400m hurdles recordholder LJ van Zyl not in action on this occasion, the promising Cornel Fredericks will have the spotlight to himself in this punishing event.
The two 5000m will probably provide the most excitement on the evening, especially after Athletics South Africa put up a cash carrot of R10,000 to the first athlete who breaks the 13min 20sec barrier. That’s the A Qualifier for World Championships in South Korea later this year so there’s double incentive.
SA 1500m and 5000m champion Steven Mokoka ran a 13:27 in 2010, and has since gone under eight minutes over 3 000m already this year, and that at altitude.
Kgosi Tsosane, who was one spot ahead of Mokoka at the African Cross Country Championships last week, is also back and has run 8:02 for 3,000m this year and there’s a whole host of entries who will keep the pace hot.
And of course the veteran Shadrack Hoff, 37, will be keen to show just why he still holds the national 5000m record of 13:14.16, a time run 16 years ago. Fastest South African last year was Juan van Deventer with a 13:22.64 in Sweden last year but he’s yet to turn out competitively on the track this year.
The women’s 5000m sees SA champion Rene Kalmer take on training partner Irvette van Blerk, the Phalula twins, Lebogang and Lebo, Annerien van Schalkwyk (our best placed women’s finisher at African cross-country champs) and Maxine Heine-Wacker.
The versatile Cindy Peters will be back as well after showing some promising early season form in a variety of field events at league meetings this year while sprint stalwart Cindy Stewart’s match-up with Carina Horn should be worth watching.
There’s also a chance for the 3000m steeplechase girls to show their stuff and Tebogo Masehla is in town again after running African cross-country championships on Sunday. She comes up against the likes of Nolene Conrad, Myrette Filmater and there’s even a chance that Christine Kalmer, younger sister of Rene, will line up.
In the field events, local fans won’t get to see Malmesbury’s Robert Oosthuizen who opened his Yellow Pages series with a World Championships qualifying throw of 82.83. The 2006 world junior champion said Friday that his next meeting will only be SA championships in Durban next month but said everything is currently on track as far as training goes.
Thursday’s programme (note minor changes may still be made)
5pm — Hammer┬á┬á ┬áWomen’s Final
5pm — 110m hurdles Men
5pm — Pole Vault Men Combined Events
5.20pm — 100m Women Heats
5.40pm — 100m Men Heats
5.45pm — Hammer Men Final
5.55pm — 400m Men B race
6pm — 3km Steeplechase Women Open
6pm — Long Jump Women Combined Events
6.15pm — 3,000m Walk Men & Women Open
6.30pm — Pole Vault Men
7pm — 100m hurdles Women
7.05pm — 5000m Women
Long Jump┬á┬á ┬áWomen
7.20pm — 400m Women
7.25pm — 400m┬á┬á ┬á Men
7.30pm — 5000m Men
Pole Vault┬á┬á ┬áWomen
7.45pm — Shot Put Men
7.50pm — 400m hurdles Women
Long Jump┬á┬á ┬áMen
7.55pm — 400m hurdles Men
8pm — 800m Men
8.05pm — 100m┬á┬á ┬á Women
8.15pm — 100m┬á┬á ┬á Men
8.20pm — 1 mile Men