Wenda's world-leading win gives her that 'wow' factor | SASCOC - SASCOC

Wenda’s world-leading win gives her that ‘wow’ factor


‘Wow!’ … those were Wenda Nel’s first words after winning the 400metre hurdles in a personal best time of 54.37 seconds at the IAAF World Challenge-meeting in Beijing.
‘The moment I crossed the line I first had to try to absorb what has just happened. I was amazed when I saw the time I ran. It was just really a ‘wow’ moment. I was so overwhelmed,’ said the Tuks/hpc athlete.
‘Anyone who wants to write about my race should use the word ‘wow’ because it describes my feelings perfectly. Every hurdle athlete hopes for that one perfect race when your stride rhythm is perfect and everything goes exactly as you have done in your training. If this happens it is ‘wow’.’
Nel admits that there were nerves before her race. ‘It’s normal for me to be slightly nervous when I am competing internationally, but this time I was able not to let it get the best of me. When I settled down in my blocks I told myself to just enjoy the race. After all, the main reason why I do athletics is because I really enjoy to run and to test myself. I purposely did not go out hard from the word go. It worked because I felt quite strong towards the end of the race.
‘I hope I will be able to continue to build on this success for the rest of the season and that I will be able to run even faster times.’
Nel’s time is 0.63s slower than Myrtle Bothma’s South African record of 53.74 which she ran in 1986.
‘I know I am now a little bit closer to the record, but right now I am not focusing on the record. I am taking it step by step and race by race.’
Nel has consistently improved her running times since 2010. In 2010 it was 56.96; 2011 it was 56.13; 2012 it was 55.36. In 2013 she had a slight hiccup with a best time of only 56.74.
Last year was definitely her breakthrough year. She won the 400m hurdles at the South African championships (held at the LC de Villiers stadium of the University of Pretoria) in 54.92. In Huelva, Spain, she won in 54.88. Then in Marrakech, Morocco, she won in the even faster time of 54.82. This year at the South African Open at Potchefstroom she won in 54.90.
Nel will be quite busy over the next 25 days. She plans to compete in Ostrava on 26 May, which will be followed by meetings in Prague (8 June) and Rabat (14 June).  However, there is a possibility that everything could change because she is shortlisted to compete at the Oslo Diamond League Meeting (11 June). She is 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. At the SA Open in Potchefstroom she won the 400m in a time of 52.09.