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Wenda wins to top world 400m hurdles standings
- Updated: May 21, 2015
Wenda Nel opened her international campaign in world-leading fashion at the IAAF World Challenge in Beijing, China on Wednesday blitzing to a new personal best in the 400-metre hurdles.
Watched by 40,000 people at the National Stadium, the Tuks/hpc athlete clocked 54.37sec, almost half a second quicker than her previous best of 54.82 set in Marrakech, Morocco last year.
National record-holder Myrtle Bothma (53.74sec almost 30 years ago) and Surita Febbraio (54.05 – that was 12 years ago!) are the only two South African athletes faster.
Nel eclipsed Shamier Little’s world-best of 54.68sec set in Starkville, US five days ago.
Nel timed her race to perfection after American’s Lashinda Demus had led for the first 200 metres but Nel took the lead at the second last hurdle.
Former Olympian, Tiffany Williams of the US finished second in 55.22, with Demus third in 55.86s.
Just before she flew out to Beijing on Sunday, Nel was already confident of running a fast time. ‘My training went well and I can feel in my legs that I’m capable of running a good race. But I’m not going to pressurise myself by becoming obsessed with running fast times. I know that if I can stay focused and do the small things right a fast time will happen.’
Nel, who was a finalist at last year’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, has set her sights on reaching the finals of the World Championships (also in Beijing) in August. ‘I know it will require much hard work and huge sacrifices to do so, but it can be done.’
Nel says her approach will be somewhat different should she get another opportunity to represent South Africa at the World Championships or at next year’s Olympic Games in Rio. ‘I’ve learned that it’s important not to allow people’s great expectations to get the better of you.’
Nel is going to be rather busy over the next month. She’s planning to compete at the Golden Spike meeting in Ostrava on 26 May, which will be followed by meetings in Prague, Czech Republic (8 June) and Rabat, Morocco (14 June).
However, there’s still a possibility that could change as she is shortlisted to compete at the Oslo Diamond League Meeting (11 June). She’s also playing with the idea of maybe competing in one 400m race while she is based in Germany. ‘It will be a good way to keep my legs going,’ said Nel.
Also in Beijing on Wednesday, last year’s Commonwealth champion Khotso Mokoena finished second in the triple jump with a distance of 16.67m. Cuba’s Alexis Copello won with a jump of 16.70m.