Shange leads the way as SA athletes march on in China | SASCOC - SASCOC

Shange leads the way as SA athletes march on in China


By Mark Etheridge

A national record in the 20-kilometre walk saw South Africa getting off to a great start on day two of the IAAF World Athletics Championships in Beijing, China on Sunday.
Shange, arguably South African athletics’ in-form man of the year, walked his way to a fifth national record as he ended 11th in 1hr 21min 43sec. Just seconds away from a top 10 finish, he will be hugely encouraged by his form as Spain’s Miguel Angel Lopez won gold in 1:19.14. Shange’s new mark is seven seconds inside his old mark. Importantly it’s also another Rio Olympics qualifying time.
The event saw 51 finishers and 10 disqualifications.
On the track it was an excellent morning for South Africa as Wenda Nel, Wayde van Niekerk and Carina Horn all went through to the next round of their respective events.
Nel must wish she could be based at the Beijing ‘Bird’s Nest’ Stadium. Earlier this year she set her national 400m hurdles mark of 54.37 on the same surface. Sunday saw her ending second in her heat (heat three of five) with a time of 54.45sec behind American Cassandra Tate (54.27).
The first four in each heat qualified automatically and Nel, who turned 27 last month, will take a whole heap out of her performance going through to Monday’s semi-finals. Her heat saw the first few comfortably ahead of the field into the main straight, meaning there was no need for heroics.
Then it was on to the men’s one-lapper which some some superlative 400m running and Wayde van Niekerk (SA 200, 300 and 400m recordholder) continues his impressive run of form and won heat six comfortably in 44.42sec, beating Trinidad and Tobago’s Renny Quow by 0.12sec. The young South African clearly had plenty in the tank as he used his strong bend running to do enough to go through.
Saudi Arabia’s Yousef Ahmed Masrahi was quickest in the qualifying stakes with an Asian record of 43.93 and it took the same time from Jamaica’s Rusheen McDonald (also a national record) to join him on top of the list. That time is the fastest ever preliminary time at a World Championships. Before that it was world recordholder Michale Johnson’s 43.85 in the semi-fianls of the 1999 championships in Seville, Spain.
Boswana’s Isaac Makwala who broke Van Niekerk’s African mark earlier in the year was next best with 44.19 and Van Niekerk slots in next.
Olympic and Commonwealth champion Kirani James of Grenada also moved through with a 44.54 mark.
It wasn’t good news for SA’s other 400m entrant, Berend Koekemoer as he ended last in heat five with a time of 46.52 and failed to progress, the slowest of 44 finishers in the heats.
Final track action for SA was Austrian-based Carina Horn in the 100m heats.
And the joint national recordholder will be well pleased with her third spot in the fourth of seven heats.
The first three in each heat took automatic spots in the semi-finals and Horn did just enough to ensure her progression as she clocked 11.08. Sure, there was a 2.3m following wind but her time was still just 0.02sec outside her and Evette de Klerk’s SA best time.
Winner of Horn’s heat was Olympic champion Shelly-Ann Frazer-Pryce in 10.88. Frazer-Pryce’s time was joint quickest into semis along with American Tori Bowie.
It wasn’t a happy morning in the field events inside the track area for South Africa’s two shot-putters Jaco Engelbrecht and Orazio Cremona.
In Group A Engelbrecht was 13th of 14 entrants with a best heave of 19.04 metres as American Joe Kovacs showed the way with a 21.36 effort. Group B saw Cremona end in the same position, his 18.63 some way off Germany’s David Storl whose best of the morning was just 10cm shorter than Kovacs.
Engelbrecht and Cremona ended 25th and 27th of 28 in the summarised results.
Sunday afternoon action sees LJ van Zyl contesting the men’s 400m semi-finals and sprint duo Akani Simbine and Henricho Bruintjies line up in the 100m semis and final.