Simon wins, Oscar waits | SASCOC - SASCOC

Simon wins, Oscar waits

Olympic dreams flickered, flared and faded on the second day of the Africa Senior Athletics Championships in Benin on Thursday, writes Mark Etheridge.

LJ van Zyl, the world’s fastest 400-metres hurdler last year (47.66sec), has already qualified for the Olympics in London later this year. His time through to the final on Thursday was 51.14 seconds, a time he would normally run in his sleep (and with pyjamas on!). But after his niggling knee problems of late he would be happy to just get through to the final and have another chance at getting his form back.

And there’s plenty of incentive for the Molteno Meteor. Should he win the title in Benin he’ll become the first athlete to successfully win four titles at the Championships.

But for Oscar Pistorius the flame is fading for a place in the 400m at the Olympics. The Paralympics legend has already run one qualifying time (in Pretoria earlier this year) but needs to do it again on the international circuit and that before Saturday’s qualifying cut-off date.

He went through to the final with a semi-final time of 46.14 but will need to dip under 45.30 in the final to seal his spot. He may still make Team South Africa in the relay squad though, selection criteria permitting.

Simon Magakwe though saw his Olympic 100m dream snuffed out. A man who bettered the A standard qualifying time (10.18) on no less than six occasions at home, he failed to carry his form over to Europe and indeed, back in Africa.

He won gold on Thursday in 10.29sec but that wasn’t good enough to see him make the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, that coveted spot on Team SA in London. The 200m though may yet offer him another chance.

Also on Thursday, Zarck Visser took silver in the men’s long jump with a a 7.98m effort, still 22cm shy of the A standard Olympic mark as Sengal’s Ndiss Kaba Badji won in 8.04.

Veteran discus ace and Commonwealth gold medallist Elizna Naude took silver with a 55.88m throw while there was also silver for Juanita Stander in the pole vault (3.50m).

Meanwhile Andre Olivier’s Olympic dream lives on as he made the final with a win in his heat (1:46.63) but will need to dip under the 1:45.60 barrier once more to seal a sport before the final SA Olympic squad is announced on 4 July.

And Tsholofelo Thipe still has a crack at the Olympics after qualifying for the final of the 400m. She ran┬á 52.51 and compatriot Estie Wittstock 52.61 to both make the final. Thipe needs another A standard qualifier (51.55) to make the grade and the fact that she’ll be running against world champion Amantle Montsho of Botswana in the final should help her cause.