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Record-breaking Cronje taking baby steps

By Mark Etheridge

Johan Cronje has had little or no chance to reflect on his recent history-making feats on the track scene, instead there’s another “little” matter keeping him occupied.

The Bloemfontein blitz broke Johan Landsman’s 20-year-old 1500-metre record in Doha when he clocked 3min 33.46sec and clipped 0.10sec off the mark that Landsman ran in Zurich back in 1993.

It would seem that having the first name Johan is something of a pre-requisite for SA 1500m success down the years with another Johan ÔÇô in this case Fourie ÔÇô having dominated this event from as far back as the 1980’s already.

But that’s not foremost in his mind. What has taken precedence is the arrival of his and wife Claire’s first-born child, Dani├½l, who was born on May 13, just two days after the dash in Doha.

And Cronje has found life a bit cluttered post-record and post-new arrival. “Its difficult to train and work, but manageable; its difficult to work and look after a new born, but manageable ÔÇô but its insane to work, train and have a new born!” he told Road to Rio 2016.

The record? “It hasn’t really got to me quite yet. Probably too worried about Claire and Dani├½l. I think if it was a couple of years back I would have felt much more chuffed about it. Thing is I knew I would get to Landsman’s mark, it was just a matter of whenÔǪ but now I am confident I can run two to three seconds faster.

“In fact if I had been taken me to London as part of the Olympic team last year I might have ran it there, my training was working towards that time.”

So this year Cronje has to decided to dedicate his running to himself, and himself alone, for now. “I’m running for myself and its not vital for me to compete at World Championships or Olympics anymore. Staying home with my family gives me just as much joy and I do not have to stress myself about other issues.”

Back to the race though and Cronje took Road to Rio through the 3min 33.46sec of glory. “A lot of people tell me how lucky I was to run in a ‘perfect’ race, but if you know about the 1500 it was far from perfect ÔÇô 17 starters, fast first lap, slow and bumpy middle laps, a stumble with 350 to go and a vicious last 300!

“I was at the bell at the same time as I was in a couple of races last year, except that this year my final lap has improved. I really feel that this being only my second race and how easy it felt I really have a shot at going 3:31 or even 3:30 soon.

“Training is taking a shot right now with the little sleep, but I have a couple of races lined up ÔÇô among them Hengelo, Oslo (mile) and Birmingham. So who knows?”

Should 2008 Olympic 1500m finalist Juan van Deventer continue on his comeback after being hit by a car while out training almost exactly two yeas ago, the world of local middle distance running is going to get ever more interesting in 2013.


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