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Junior haul gives hope
- Updated: May 17, 2011
At the end of four days of action at the African Junior track and field championships in Gaborone, Botswana, Team South Africa can feel well-satisfied with both their medal haul and their outlook for the future.
South Africa topped the medal tables with double the total medals won by runners-up Ethiopia. The medal break-down saw 13 golds, 13 silver and eight bronze coming home in Team SA’s baggage. Importantly that’s 12 more than South Africa won in Mauritius in 2009.
Intelligent selection, a new found enthusiasm for the sport and a core group of athletes who show immense potential and promise for the future all contributed to the best ever performance by an SA team at an African Junior Championships.
A medal-haul of 34 medals from 61 athletes is not a bad return at all and Athletics South Africa acting chairperson James Evans expressed his happiness. ÔÇ£It was a good performance. We could have had more medals had the men’s 4x100m relay not been disqualified, but that happens to the best, ask the Americans and the British. But we are happy.
“There are some areas we need to address, in particular our middle distance events and some of the throws. But overall this was a very good performance by the Juniors.ÔÇØ
Evans also stressed that in order to win medals, you need to create a winning mentality. ÔÇ£One of the biggest challenges our senior athletes have is that when they get to major championships they are overawed. So getting them used to winning medals at Youth and Junior Level is an important step in creating future stars.ÔÇØ
The result clearly showed South Africa’s strengths and what ASA need to focus on to increase their medal tally in the future and build the sport. South Africa’s main success came in the sprints and hurdles as well as some of the field events. Sonya van der Merwe was the pick of the crop with gold in the 200m individual sprint and two more golds in the 4x100m relay and 4x400m relay. Jean-Marie Senekal headed a list of seven athletes who each won two medals at the championships. Senekal was crowned champion in the 400m-hurdles and the 4x400m relay, whilst Samantha Pretorius won gold in the long jump and 4x100m relay.
Kyla Gilbert won gold in the 100m hurdles and silver in the long jump (behind Pretorius); Chante van Tonder had to settle for bronze in the 100m, but bagged a gold in the 4x100m relay.
Justine Palframan showed she has the potential to develop into a superb 400m runner. Her silver medal was a personal best (until her 52.88 at Zone VI Championships in Swaziland last year is ratified) and a sub-53sec clocking, and had she not wasted valuable energy to try and chase down Ethiopia’s Manedo Fantu Magiso who had gone off like a bullet, it could well have been an individual gold. Palframan though learned from that experience and ran a brilliant anchor leg in the 4x400m final to give South Africa gold.
Gideon Trotter showed his versatility by winning the individual 100m and a bronze in the 4x400m relay, whilst Shaun van Wyk won two bronze medals ÔÇô in the 400m hurdles and 4x400m relay.
It is clear Slanders approach last year of depriving desreving does not work. Look at Boland for example. I see two kids who were entered as individuals at SAs won medals at the AFrican Junior Champs but not good enough for Boland????? That are shocking! The new ASA board are doing a great job of working with potentials for the future. WE were gone to Africa with the Seniors laas year leaving behind many medals - Gideon Sam must remember this wen selcting teams in the future. This is our hopefils for Brazil 2016 and Durban 2020. I was there and I can tell you it was tough. These athletes from upper Africa are very good in almost all events now. Well done ASA. caryy on build the sport as you are and leav politics out of it!
Well done to the athletes, their coaches, parents, provincial bodies and ASA for the support given to our future stars! Mr Evans made valid comments: "Evans also stressed that in order to win medals, you need to create a winning mentality. “One of the biggest challenges our senior athletes have is that when they get to major championships they are overawed. So getting them used to winning medals at Youth and Junior Level is an important step in creating future stars.” Provinces need to select and expose more youth and sub-youth athletes to national competitions. Some provinces focus on Veteran and Masters only and only select 2 Youth athletes to the SA Cross Country as an example. But they would select full veteran and master teams.