- Championship records for Brown and relay team
- Gobel grabs share of the lead at Kyalami
- Interim coach Ellis looks to take Banyana even further
- Opening round of 70 puts Williams in front
- Big medal haul for SA at Junior Commonwealth Games
- Successful comeback from injury as Anel grabs fourth
- Dednam duo win 10th SA doubles title
- Corbett leads the way as SA tally grows to 35
- Caster, Wayde up for Athletes of the Year award
- Seven more golds for SA at African Championships
Nel knocks final hurdle but takes positives away from Ostrava
- Updated: May 27, 2015
By Mark Etheridge
Despite only finishing third, rising 400-metre hurdles star Wenda Nel gave a great account of herself at Tuesday night’s Golden Spike event in Ostrava, Czech Republic.
And she’s still the leading women’s 400m hurdles runner this year after her 54.37sec victory in Beijing, China last week.
On Tuesday a strong start in Ostrava saw the Tuks/hpc athlete make all the running… until the final, frustrating hurdle.
She clipped that barrier, lost her stride briefly and that was all it took for world champion and hometown favourite Zuzana Hejnova to go past and lead her fellow Czech Denisa Rosolova into second. They clocked 55.13 and 55.45 respectively while Nel had to settle for 55.47.
Afterwards Nel, 26, was surprisingly upbeat. ‘Yes, it was an interesting race, wouldn’t say it was bad, I’m still satisfied as there there was still a bit of stress going in to the race as world-leader against those big names but that’s normal.
‘I was tired for the last two hurdles and, without looking for excuses, I think the travel from Beijing was still sitting in my legs.
‘So I was a bit tired and lost a bit of momentum when I hit that hurdle. But I fought back nicely and if I hadn’t hit it, my race would obviously have gone a lot better.
‘Overall a good experience, considering that five of the girls tonight have the experience of running a world championships final.’
Nel also had special mention of the weather. ‘It certainly wasn’t the best conditions and I must say when I went out on to the track it felt like my body was going into shock,’ she laughed. ‘But then again it’s the same for everyone, just very cold and wet, luckily no wind.
‘My body definitely likes and functions better in the heat, so hopefully it’ll be better weather in African (Rabat, Morocco) next time out.
‘But just amazing experience to run with these athletes and now I think I’m happy to be able to say that I’m capable of running with these very top athletes and there’s lots to come. This time wasn’t bad considering the technical fault – in a nice smooth race the 54’s will come.’
Good news though for Nel is that she’s also got confirmed entries for the Paris and London legs of the Diamond League.
Fastest 400m hurdles time in the world last year belonged to Jamaica’s Kaliese Spencer’s 53.41 run in Kingston. Rosolova ran a 54.54 best last year while Hejnova only had a 55.86 to her name.
Nel’s coach, Irma Reyneke, who left this year’s national champs with five of her charges winning hurdles medals, was just as happy as her charge on Wednesday. ‘I think this was a damned good race by her. I think the first 300m was actually faster than in Bejing at the weekend,’ she told Road to Rio 2016. ‘The hpc will record her “touchdowns” and will send them to me today so it will be very interesting to compare those to Beijing.
‘To run alongside the world champion at the final hurdle is unbelievably good to see. After that 10th hurdle she got back into her rhythm and that showed that she’s still strong at the finish. I’m very, very proud of her.’
Also in Ostrava action was middle distance and cross-country ace Elroy Gelant. He pluckily stuck with the leaders for all but the last lap and he fought hard to finish fourth in 13min 28.69sec. Winner was Dejen Gebremeskel of Ethiopia in 13:23.74.