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Five SA athletes in Games action on Sunday
- Updated: July 26, 2014
By Mark Etheridge
Team South Africa’s track and field campaign gets into action on Sunday with athletes involved in three events at Hampden Park.
The day’s action starts at 2.30pm local time when the 100m athletes take part in qualifying heats, nine in all. Then there’s the shot put qualifying and Juanelie Meijer will be the only one, of the five SA para-athletes, taking part on Sunday.
She goes off in the T38 long jump event.
Team manager Brandon du Plessis was upbeat about the team as he wound up final preparations at the athletes’ village on Saturday.
‘It’s all good, we had a nice practice today and the team are coming off a nice training camp at the SA base in Gemona, Italy. Only Simon Magakwe was a bit late because he came from competition in Europe.’
All three of the sprinters, Magakwe, Akani Simbine and late addition Ncinci Titi had pre-competition haircuts in the village salon … to shave off those extra seconds on the track perhaps?
‘Simon is in good shape and if he brings his A game will be looking to make the final as will Akani,’ says Du Plessis. ‘And Ncinci, who will run the relay events, is only 20 years old so this will also be a great learning curve for him.’
In the nine heats, the first two in each heat go through automatically and then the next six fastest.
In the shot put, big-boy Cremona will have to throw 19.90m to qualify automatically and the first 12 athletes progress into the final.
‘I’m feeling good. There are obviously always a few niggles, it’s the nature of the game but I always throw better in competition than in training so that’s a good thing,’ said Cremona. ‘I just hope the weather stays like it is.’
Cremona wears bib No 2094 and joked that ideally he’d like to match his competition number with an effort of 20.94 on the day.
Du Plessis says that Olympic governing body SASCOC had worked on a figure of eight medals for the athletics contingent at these Games (the last Games in New Delhi delivered five medals to the team coffers).
‘But we have chatted among the team and we know athletics owes the country big time so we are quietly confident of doing better than in New Dehli and double figures would be great.’
As for Meijer, this is her first international multicode event.
‘She’s only 17 but a very confident young person,’ said para-track coach Suzanne Ferreira of the bubbly blonde Bloemfontein athlete.
Meijer is classified in the T38 category (cerebral palsy) and her classification means she has the least disability in this category.
She has competed at the 2011 and 2013 IPC Athletics World Championships but this is her first major multicode event.
‘She’s on a nice upward curve which is good,’ says Ferreira. ‘She’s ranked fourth in the world now so if she continues that form she may well go close to the medals. She had a small hamstring niggle in Gemona but the physios say it will all be good.’
The key to Meijer’s success, as in most of the cerebral palsied athletes’ cases will be to manage her excitement levels.
‘The trick will be to use it to good effect and channel it into her performance,’ says Ferreira. ‘She’s nice and confident, hasn’t missed any training sessions, which all amounts to a big plus!’