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SA athletes excel at African Junior Champs in Ethiopia
- Updated: March 12, 2015
By Mark Etheridge
South Africa have returned from the African Junior Athletics Championships in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia as runners-up on the medals table.
The team brought back 23 medals, made up of nine gold, seven silver and seven bronze.
That saw them slotting in behind Nigeria who had 12 medals and while the host nation had the biggest medals tally with 28, they had fewer gold medals than South Africa.
The medal haul is an impressive one given that the team was a small one of only 28 athletes.
Said coach Pierre Blignaut who accompanied the team as one of three coaches: ‘In comparison to the number of athletes who took part and the medals won and taking into consideration the number of countries that took part then it’s definitely one of SA’s best track and field performances to date.
‘The athletes fought hard for every medal and put in heaps of effort as can be seen by the many personal best times and distances.’
Of the 23 medals, track athletes accounted for 12 and field for 11, a good spread of excellence.
Three of Blignaut’s athletes won gold in the field events, Leandri Geel, Johan Scholtz and Monique Wagner.
The team was managed by Dorah Vuyelwa and team leader was ASA track and field chairman Pieter Lourens. The other two coaches were Seef le Roux and Steen Swarts.
‘I think it was a most successful championships for South Africa and I am confident that these athletes will go on to wear the green and gold for South Africa at a higher level,’ said Blignaut.
Among the gold medal winners was Gezelle Magerman, winner of SA’s sole medal at the Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China last year. She won the girls 400m hurdles in 59.41 seconds.
A good smattering of gold medal winners were also part of Team South Africa at the African Union Region 5 Games in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe late last year.
South Africa’s other gold medal winners were:
Katelyn Sparks (pole vault) 3.40 metres
Leandri Geel (discus) 46.76m
Tamzyn Thomas (100m) 11.69sec
Larry Lombaard ( 400m hurdles) 51.80sec
Marilize Higgins (high jump) 1.80m
Jo-Anè Van Dyk (javelin) unofficially just short of 50m
Monique Wagner (shot put) 13.96m
Johan Scholtz (discus) 57.57m
Picture features Blignaut with two of his gold-medal winning discus athletes, Johan Scholtz and Leandri Geel