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Middle-distance aces chase Games times in PE
- Updated: April 20, 2016
Middle-distance runners produced some thrilling contests in Tuesday night’s third leg of the ASA Night Series at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University Stadium in Port Elizabeth.
Competing in cool, wet conditions, the men’s 1 500m field went out hard, attacking the qualifying standard of 3min 36.20sec for the Rio Olympics.
With Elroy Gelant offering to take up the pace for the first few laps, Dumisane Hlaselo and Jerry Motsau went with him, but after Gelant dropped out it became a tactical affair between the two leading contenders.
Pushing with a long drive for home, Hlaselo held off Motsau by 0.25sec to secure victory in 3:39.49.
‘We were heading for the qualifier but somewhere, somehow we weren’t able to do what was supposed to be done down here,’ said Hlaselo, who had earned the silver medal at the SA Senior Championships in Stellenbosch on Saturday.
‘But we are coming from a championship, so we have a bit of fatigue because of travelling, so that maybe caught us. The conditions were, however, perfect but I just didn’t have that “oomph” to make it happen today.’
In the men’s 5 000m event, Gladwin Mzazi and Sibusiso Nzima were locked in a tight battle, with the lead changing hands throughout the race. Mzazi proved too strong down the home straight, however and drew clear to cross the line in 13:54.99. Nzima took second place in 13:56.49.
In an equally hard-fought contest, Lebogang Phalula was triumphant in the women’s 1500m. Phalula won the race in 4:20.64, with junior prospect Simonay Weitsz holding on for second position in 4:22.03 as she edged Mandie Brandt (4:22.09) into third.
Olympic 800m champion Nijel Amos of Botswana, dropped down in distance to bag the men’s 400m title in 45.73, in the absence of hurdles specialist LJ van Zyl, who was withdrawn from the start list. Another hurdler, Wenda Nel, clocked 53.02 to win the women’s flat 400m race, working on her speed ahead of the international season.
In-form Western Cape star Antonio Alkana was triumphant in a closely contested Men’s 110m hurdles event in 13.67, crossing the line 0.08 ahead of Tshepo Lefete.
Junior athlete Tamzin Thomas outclassed her senior opposition to win the women’s 200m race in 23.89, and teenager Baboloki Thebe of Botswana, stunned local favourite Roscoe Engel to bag the men’s half-lap title in 21.04.
On the infield, veteran hammer throw ace Chris Harmse, who earned his 21st consecutive national title at the weekend, was again victorious with a best effort of 72.49m. while Tshwane giant Orazio Cremona dominated the men’s shot put with a 20.05m heave.
Meanwhile Commonwealth 800m bronze medallist Andre Olivier has spoken out about his injury frustration after failing to finish the two-lapper at SA Championships in Stellenbosch on Saturday.
Olivier, a former world junior 800m gold medallist, hit the turf down the back straight while looking in a great position to push on for victory.
He told Road to Rio 2016’s Mark Etheridge: ‘I was struggling with my hamstring for the last couple of weeks leading up to SA’s, and with 250m to go in the final I felt lots of pain and had to pull out. Its luckily only a first degree (almost second degree) tear, so we hope be getting back to training in two weeks.
‘Its been crazy, very difficult to stay positive with so many injuries. But hey I just hope everything happens now and I can be healthy when its needed.’
His full fitness will certainly be needed at the Rio Olympics where he’ll be hoping to excel for TeamSA in his second Olympics after having raced in London four years ago.
‘Right now the fitness is average, injuries have been keeping me back but not in bad shape.’
For now though the Jean Verster coached athlete will look to up his performance curve at his Potchefstroom base.
‘I’m keeping fit and will try to start jogging as soon as possible and just need to keep it pain free for now.’
Picture of Wenda Nel in action courtesy of ROGER SEDRES/ImageSA