Nel, Van Niekerk shine for SA in international competition | SASCOC - SASCOC

Nel, Van Niekerk shine for SA in international competition

With the Commonwealth Games looming large in Scotland next month, a whole host of South African athletes were testing their form around the globe at the weekend, writes Mark Etheridge.

Athletes were in action in Morocco and Netherlands, with no fewer than seven in action at the latter meeting.

In Marrakech, All Africa Games silver medallist Wenda Nel clocked 54.82sec for the 400-metre hurdles event at the Mohammed VI  meeting.

That improved her previous personal best by 0.10sec and goes nicely with her recent personal flat 400m best of 52.53sec.

Seemingly not improving though was Olympic 800m silver medallist Caster Semenya. She ran 2:02 in Rome last week for her season’s best but failed to impress. Running in Hengelo, Netherlands she was a pedestrian ninth in 2:06.3 and seems poles apart from her 2012 form.

That time saw her end up a gaping seven seconds behind winner Brenda Martinez of the United States.

One of the better efforts by a South African came from young Wayde van Niekerk at the AA-Drink FBK Games in Hengelo. Although still preferring the 200m sprint event, he clocked 45.07 to win the men’s 400m in a time just 0.12sec outside his personal best.That’s also his fastest time at sea level and among his scalps was Olympic silver medallist Luguelin Santos.

“I twas as nice race and I felt good,” he told Road to Rio 2016. “Next up is the New York leg of the Diamond League. I just want to run what comes, enjoy myself this year and go hard in every race.”

He also has some 200m races lined up. “At this stage I’ve got two confirmed, and the next one is on 15 July in Lucerne, Switzerland, on my birthday so good motivation to go hard!’

And field athlete Zarck Visser was also a happy jumper as he took fourth spot in the long jump with a leap of 8.07m.

Winner was Greece’s Louis Tsatoumas with a best of 8.25 and 2012 Olympic champion Greg Rutherford was second, a centimetre shorter.

Visser opened with a 7.90 effort and his best jump came with his second attempt. He also had another 8m leap on the night.”I’m very happy with my jumping. This is the best start I’ve ever had,” he told Road to Rio 2016.

“I expected less after the long flight here but I’m in a relaxed frame of mind. The body feels strong and ready, now for the next meeting in Dessau, Germany.”

Our leading one-lap hurdlers were also in action and after two-time Olympian LJ van Zyl had made the early season running with a sub 49-second clocking it was 2012 London team-mate Cornel Fredericks who turned the tables. Puerto Rico’s Javier Culson woin 48.66 and Fredericks took bronze in 49.31. Van Zyl was sixth on this occasion with a 50.57 finish.

World indoor 3000m finalist Elroy Gelant was in outdoor action and took eighth spot with a 7:44.2 finish as Kenyan Cornelius Kangogo won in 7:41.2.

Sprint action saw young Akani Simbini take fourth spot in one of two 100m dashes. He clocked 10.34, some way off the 10.02 he ran when second to Simon Magakwe when the latter ran the SA record 9.98 in Tshwane earlier this year. Magakwe raced in Morocco at the weekend where he took fourth in the 200 (20.56) and seventh in the 100m (10.24).

Finally it was Victor Hogan in the discus in Hengelo where he took 10th spot in 61.49 as Germany’s Robert Harting notched another victory with a 68.47 heave.