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Hogan dazzles in the discus as Bruintjies, Conley take sprint honours
- Updated: April 15, 2016
By Mark Etheridge
Big Victor Hogan from the little Cape coastal village of Kleinmond got the South African Track and Field Championships off to a great start in Stellenbosch on Friday as he booked his place at the Rio Olympics later this year.
The giant redhead hurled the discus 67.62 metres to win him the national title and also put him on top of the world rankings in this event, early in the season as it may be. The throw, which came with his fourth heave, comfortably beat the Olympic qualifying mark by 2.62m.
Hogan was a different man to the one who dropped out of the Commonwealth Games event in Glasgow, Scotland two years ago, dejected and not even prepared to comment to the media.
On this occasion he was positively delighted: ‘I’ve been looking forward to big things now for a few years now.
‘I’ve moved down to Stellenbosch since January to be with coach Kaai Preller and hey, we just work so well together and everything falls into place.
‘I could barely sleep last night, maybe an hour, because I was expecting something big.
‘I’ve battled with a knee injury for a while now and now for the first time in ages I’m able to do squats and leg strength work and it’s made a huge difference. It’s been all about quality work and I feel stronger than ever.
‘I was looking at going to go to Europe in May to get some competitions under the belt but that’s all on hold now. This throw will give me many more options. Today was just about trying to prove myself.’
Hogan also admitted that he was now slightly lighter than in Scotland two years ago. ‘I’m about 125kg now and that’s about 3-4kg lighter.. it’s all about being fast and strong now.’
Meanwhile in the blue riband sprint events it was local boy Henricho Bruintjies who won bragging rights by winning the 100m sprint in 10.17sec from training partner Akani Simbine in 10.21. Paarl Hero
Bruintjies’ time was just 0.01sec outside the Olympic qualifying time but he has already all but secured his spot in Rio with a best of 9.97sec. Simbine looked uncomfortable after the final and it remains to be seen if there’s anything serious.
And Carina Horn made her intentions clear from the get-go on a wind-still warm morning, tailor made for sprints. She won the first 100m heat in 11.35 after easing off drastically from just before 60m. Her semi-finals saw her upping the pace for an 11.36sec as the south-easter started picking up from the front.
But in the finals it was Alyssa Conley who came to the party. Already having run a qualifying time the Central Gauging athlete just pipped Horn by 0.01sec with a time of 11.36sec. Young Tamzin Thomas of Western Province, a member of Team SA at the African Youth Games in Botswana last year, took bronze in 11.67.
In the men’s 400m hurdles final, LJ van Zyl notched yet another national title with yet another sub-50sec clocking as he won comfortably in 49.34. Commonwealth champion Cornel Fredericks, who has been spending a lot of time in Bath, England, was second in 49.75.
It was another historic moment from ‘veteran’ Van Zyl who logged an amazing 100th sub-50sec event.
The women’s one-lap hurdles saw World Championships finalist Wenda Nel winning easily in 54.85sec from Anneri Moolman (58.66) while young Gezelle Magerman, reigning Youth Olympic champion, took the bronze in 59.03.
In the much awaited 400m, world champion and South Africa’s track and field poster boy of the moment, Wayde van Niekerk made a heat win of 47.27sec look like nothing more than a warm-down jog. How this youngster has transformed from the days when he was finding his feet at the African Zone VI Games in Swaziland six years ago.
Van Niekerk then went through to Saturdays’ final with a 46.54 clocking.
Olympic 800m silver medallist Caster Semenya was down to run three events, the 400, 800 and 1500m race and went through to the one-lap with a 55.16 clocking.
In the 1500m spare a thought for young Dominique Scott-Efurd, who jetted over from the United States to contest this event. Heats were scheduled for Friday afternoon but after athletes had gone through their warm-ups it was announced that there weren’t enough entries for heats and the potential winners were told to come back for Saturday’s one-off final.
Saturday’s activities begin with the 20km race-walk, a code that is experiencing a huge resurgence in SA athletics with four athletes already having met the Rio qualifying mark.
Main picture of Conley capturing the national 100m title ahead of Horn courtesy of ROGER SEDRES/IMAGESA