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SA track and field greats celebrate Cronje’s crackerjack run
- Updated: June 4, 2014
South African champions, both past and present have heaped praise on Johan Cronje after the middle-distance machine broke Johan Fouie’s 27-year-old track mile.
Cronje was part of a crazy four-lap men’s dash at the Eugene, Oregon leg of the IAAF Diamond League series.
And although he may ‘only’ have ended ninth, he ended up obliterating his previous best by more than four seconds. And more importantly, his time of 3min 50.70sec was 0.12sec inside SA mile legend Fourie’s time of 3:50.82, set in Port Elizabeth back in 1987 when athletics was in such a solid position compared to these days.
The leaders set a lunatic first-lap pace before the race got any semblance of normality and Cronje used a wise head to stay out of the bedlam, before coming through the field in the last lap.
Winning time was the fastest time on the globe this year, Djibouti athlete Souleiman Ayanleh’s 3:47.32 and an amazing 10 athletes sent personal bests in the race.
ÔÇ£The race was fast from the start. I could feel the pace early and decided to rather go my own pace ÔÇô training showed I can do 3:50 so that was the target,ÔÇØ Cronje told Road to Rio 2016 on Wednesday. ÔÇ£Same as after Doha, I’m happy with the way it felt. Think I’m lucky so far because I haven’t done the real necessary workouts for fast times yet and I’m already running decent times.
ÔÇ£I just hope all goes well the next month because then I’ll be in the kind of shape I want to be at Commonwealth Games.ÔÇØ
Said Fourie, now living in Stellenbosch and an athlete who dominated the middle distance scene in the mid-80s: ÔÇ£Johan, best wishes for the new South African mile record. I’m excited on your behalf. And it came in Eugene, I was there on two occasions and it was one of my favourite training venues. Now for the sub 3:50 mile in OsloÔÇª all the best for the season.ÔÇØ
Henning Gericke was another athlete who provided years of top quality middle-distance racing on local soil (Deon Brummer was the other). Now involved in the sports psychology business, he had this to say: ÔÇ£Great Johan enjoy your special talents, you are blessed. Remember there are no barriers, just unbelievable possibilities. A great athlete but just as great a person. Well done to DB Prinsloo [coach] as well. You can be proud.ÔÇØ
Even our field event greats have been impressed with Cronje, including long-time long jump champion Francois Fouche: ÔÇ£Good luck. Now for the sub 3:50. Hope we see you again in March at the Dagbreek/Maties Straatmylfees in Stellenbosch.ÔÇØ
And evergreen hammer thrower, Chris Harmse, a man who has won more than 15 national titles, said: ÔÇ£Well done Johan, was great to watch, enjoy it.ÔÇØ