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Caster gets quicker
- Updated: March 27, 2011
The first of two Yellow Pages Interprovincial Challenges in Germiston on Saturday saw some of South Africa’s top athletes coming to top form in time for the national championships in Durban from April 8-9.
Caster Semenya continued her steady improvement by winning the 800 metre in two minutes 1.77 seconds. Semenya led from early on the first lap right through to the line and carved three seconds from her previous season’s best.
“This was part of my build up to Durban (SA Championships), ” said the world 800m champion. “I hope to be at two minutes in Durban and then improve on that in Europe. What is needed is someone to take the first lap through in 60 seconds.”
Central Gauteng’s Mandie Brandt was a distant second in 2:06:28, with Juanne Cilliers from Central North West completing the podium in 2:06:88
Semenya went on to place second behind Tjipekora Herunga, (52.32), in the 400m where she clocked 52.54 seconds. This time equalled the top ranked time of 2010 by SA champion Estie Wittstock.
Khotso Mokoena, world silver medalist long jumper, had the crowd behind him with every leap, the second of which went out to 8.17 metres. He followed with two more jumps over the eight-metre mark before calling it a day. “I’m pleased with this and the consistency of jumping,” said Mokoena who will also compete in the triple jump at the SA championships. “I was around 20 centimetre behind the board, so there’s more to come.”
Towards the end of May Mokoena will head to Europe for a short spell on the circuit before returning for the final preparation to the World Championships.
After a false start at the first time of asking, Hannes Dreyer set the stadium alight by leading the 100m sprint from gun to line in 10.17 seconds, holding off national champion Simon Magakwe who was 0.7 seconds adrift.
Dreyer’s performance was a 0.3 seconds improvement on his personal record and the ninth fastest time ever by a South African but was aided by a 2.1 metre per second wind. “Even with the wind I’m exceptionally pleased with this,” said the Gauteng North athlete of his first outing of the season.
“I’ve taken a slower build up this year, with the SA Championships a step on the ladder to Europe. If you want to be the best you have to race the best and I want to get my qualifier (for world championships) this year.”
Dreyer confirmed his early season form securing the double by taking the 200m ahead of Thuso Mpuang in 20.88 against a 1.8m/s wind and shaving another 0.02 seconds from his best in 2010.
A surprise change of event by newly crowned SA 400m hurdle record holder, LJ van Zyl, brought the crowd to their feet when he blasted a lap of the track in 44.86 seconds, the fifth all time best by a South African. “I went out hard. Ofentse (Mogawane) helped a lot running hard next to me, and then tried to move off the final bend,” said the Tukkies athlete, who has promised so much on the world 400m hurdle stage but has so often just fallen short.
“Everything has been going well this season. After the (SA) record in Pretoria we just had to watch the volume. I will only run the 400m hurdles at the championships.”
Van Zyl is currently the only person with a claim to the R200,000 Yellow Pages Pot of Gold which is on offer to athletes who break a national record in the Yellow Pages events. On Saturday he missed a second claim by 0.27 seconds on Arnaud Malherbe’s one lap record of 44.59 seconds set in Roodepoort back in 1999.
Wenda Theron ran a 56.24 for the 400m hurdles, well clear of the competition from Jana Theron and improving on her personal best of 56.96, which was the top ranked time in 2010.
The Yellow Pages inter-provincial competition attracted over 250 athletes from six provinces and will have its second leg in Bellville Cape town on 16 April, the weekend after the SA Senior Championships in Durban.