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Five medals put SA fifth on World Youth Championships medals table
- Updated: July 20, 2015
By Mark Etheridge
South Africa return from the IAAF World Youth Championships in Cali, Colombia with five medals after five days of intense competition.
After a slow start to the competition, possibly due to the effects of acclimatisation after the team only arrive two days prior to the event, the team left their best to last, raking in four medals on Sunday’s final day.
After Werner Visser, pictured above, had won gold in the discus on Saturday there was further gold in the javelin from Paul Botha, whose 78.49 metres was a personal best by close on four metres. He beat Germany’s Niklas Kaul by 44 centimetres.
Further medals came from Kyle Appel who made up for the disappointment of being disqualified in the 100m semi-finals as he raced to silver in the 200m in a 20.57 SA youth record and then anchored the mixed 4×400 relay to win silver from Canada in a time of 3min 23.60sec. The Canadians were given the same time but after times were rounded down the SA quartet got the nod.
The final medal went to Nicola de Bruyn in the girls’ 200m final as she clocked a fine 23.38 that, amazingly, is only 0.08sec off Evette de Klerk’s 1982 youth record set in Pretoria. Just last week De Klerk’s senior 100m record of 11.06 was equalled by Austrian based Carina Horn.
Pierre Blignaut was SA coach in Cali and enthused about Visser’s first gold for the SA team. ‘Saturday was a great day for us, both as a team and for me personally because I’ve also been Werner’s personal coach for the last few years.
‘Since the beginning of the year he’s had various throws that have been top of the world rankings. We’re just happy that everything worked out. Another of my athletes, Patrick Duvenage, was also in the discus final and very unlucky not to get a medal as well. For most of the year he’s been second on the world rankings, but on the day it didn’t work out and he ended seventh… there was just two metres between second and seventh places. I was certain we’d get two medals in that event but it just wasn’t meant to be.’
And Visser had this to add: ‘From my first warm-up throw I threw well. My second was into the net but still felt good because the first one went pretty far.
‘So I got my first throw in and I knew that would put me in the top eight and then with my third throw the big one came.
‘Then the last few throws I tried too hard and messed up a bit but the third was good enough for gold,’ he told Road to Rio 2016.
Blignaut continued: ‘We had a great last day as well with that silver in the new mixed 4x400m relay. Kyle won his second medal and Taylon Bieldt, Renate van Tonder and Nicholas Marich were the other runners.
‘Good news is that the SA team ended fifth overall in the medals table.’
United States topped the medals table with 19 (eight gold) ahead of Kenya (13 medals), Japan (five, three of which were gold), and Ethiopia (eight).
A total of 32 nations won medals.
Extremely encouraging, and more proof of South Africa’s ever improving track and field stature is that at the last World Youth Championships in Donetsk, Ukraine two years ago South Africa were 15th on the medals table with just two medals (gold by Helene Swanepoel in the 400m hurdles and bronze from Julia du Plessis in the high jump).