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Stars take to the track

The middle-distance events at Saturday’s opening Yellow Pages interprovincial track and field meeting at Germiston look set to deliver some fine competiton as the race for places in the South African team for the Olympics later this year hots up.

The men’s 1500-metre should be one of the highlights of the meeting. Steven Mokoka (GN), Tshamano Setone (CGA), Dean Brummer (ACNW) and Folavio Sehole (AMPU) look the favourites in this line up which also includes Rynhardt van Rensburg (FS), Marco Bucarizza (CGA) Abenigo Mashaba (AMPU) and William Mothosola (FS).

The two Free Staters could find the going a bit tough after being scheduled to race the 800m just two and a half hours before the 1500m. The rest of the field will be on fresh legs.

Mokoka’s best of 3:38:55 would earn him 1126 points on the IAAF point-scoring table, but the Gauteng North athlete has been clocking a lot of mileage lately in his preparations for the London Olympics where he has qualified for the marathon and he may not have sheer leg speed at this stage of the season.

Setone has a best of 3:38.29, run in 2009 and has raced sparingly over the 1500m, his focus being more on the 5000m. He is however a strong 1500m/mile athlete, testament to that being his unbeaten streak in the mile in the 2010 Yellow Pages Summer Series where he won in PE, Oudtshoorn (also the street mile) and in Stellenbosch.

Dean Brummer is fresh from his fifth place finish at the SA Cross Country trials in Potchefstroom last Saturday and boasts a best of 3:45.77, which he ran in Bellville in 2011.

The son of the famous Deon Brummer (a multiple sub four-minute miler in his day), Dean has shown his ability to be a fighter and will make the going tough on the day. Sehole boasts a best of 3:45.10 and his provincial teammate, Abenigo Mashaba’s best of 3:45.5 means that the two running together could pick up a number of points for their province, having the advantage of being two athletes in the race.

Amongst the entries in the men’s 800m are SA junior champion Van Rensburg (FS), front runner Tlou Seloba (CGA), Molefe Molefe (CGA) and Pieter van der Westhuizen (CGA) who, surprisingly, is not competing in the 1500m. Van Rensburg’s best of 1:48.87 run in Durban last year is worth 1061 points on the IAAF points table.

The 19-year-old recently competed in the Yellow Pages Summer Series where he clocked a personal best of 1:19.40 for the 600m in Parow. Van Rensburg’s team mate William Mothosola whose PB of 1:47 is worth 1113 points, should help him in the race to accumulate as many points as possible for Free State.

Central Gauteng will feel confident of maximizing points as they field Van der Westhuizen, Molefe and Thapelo Madiba. Van der Westhuizen is better known as a 1500m runner with a best of 3:35.33 run in New York in 2009 and the highest expectations will lie on the shoulders of Tlou Seloba who has become well known for his aggressive running style, taking the race to the field and then challenging them to hang on.

Seloba’s best is a 1:47;65 run in Durban in 2011. But the 26-year-old is confident he will open the season with a 1:46, which could see him earn around 1114 points for his province.

In the women’s middle-distance events, Central Gauteng’s Mapaseka Makhanya should line up as the favourite in the 800m. Makhanya is looking for a time of around 2min 03sec or 2:04 which would earn the province between 1083 and 1100 points. Makhanya has focused her season on qualifying for the Olympic Games and is unlikely to be troubled by the rest of the field, who average around 2:12.

Then in the 1500m, we’re likely to see a much closer affair although CGA will once again be fielding the strongest team.

Christine Kalmer, Nolene Conrad and Maxine Heine-Wacker come into the field with an average time of 4:32. Kalmer, younger sister of road ace and Olympic marathon qualifier Rene, has an entry time of 4:31.1. Conrad’s is 4:32.2 and Heine-Wacker 4:33.

It is by no means an open and shut race though as Gauteng North have entered Violet Raseboya who boasts a best of 4:16.12, which she ran in Durban in April in 2011.


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