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Dominique dashes to Rio 10,000m qualifying time in US
- Updated: May 5, 2016
By Mark Etheridge
South Africa’s Dominique Scott-Efurd has run her way to a provisional spot on Team South Africa’s 2016 Olympics squad after a personal best over 10,000 metres in the United States at the weekend.
And should she get the official nod from Athletics South Africa and Olympic governing body SASCOC she’ll be the first SA women to run the 10,000m track event since Elana Meyer in Sydney 16 years ago.
In fact, when Meyer won Olympic silver in Barcelona, 1992, Scott-Efurd was still less than two months old.
The tiny Cape Town athlete, now studying out of the University of Arkansas, US raced the 10,000m at the Payton Jordan Invitational meeting in California where she finished 15th in a spanking new personal best of 31:56.84 in a race won by Kenya’s Irene Cheptai (31:15.38).
In a field of more than 30 athletes from at least eight countries, Scott’s clocking was her quickest by some 15sec (previously 32:11.60 on 1 April last year) and comfortably inside the Olympic qualifying mark of 32:15.00.
And the good news is that she can go a lot quicker after not having raced more than 10 times over this distance.
She took Road to Rio 2016 through her benchmark run. ‘I was excited to race the 10,000m against great competition. I knew I was fit but I still had to run the long 25 laps.
‘The first 3000m were restless, everyone was constantly shuffling, making sure they were in a good position. I think it was because it was such an important race for everyone.
‘I came through 5000m in about 15:52 and after this I knew I was on pace, and that I just needed to relax the second half of the race and I would hit the qualifying time.’
There was certainly a lot more stress riding on her slim shoulders on this occasion. ‘I was definitely thinking more during this race than I normally do. I think my biggest fear was running too fast and “dying”. I knew I couldn’t afford to do that in this race.
‘I ended up closing hard in my last 400m and finishing with that time of 31:56 minutes. I was extremely excited to see that I had met the qualifying standard by almost 20sec and on top of that broken the 32 minute barrier. As far as I know that’s only the third time a South African female has broken 32 minutes in the 10km.’
She’s spot on there with only national record holder Elana Meyer (30:52.51) and Colleen de Reuck (31:56.00 and now representing the US) have run faster.
Last month Scott-Efurd was back in her home country to race at national championships but on that occasion, contested the 1500m.
So what is her favourite distance? ‘That’s a tough one. My speed has come a long way during the past year so I cannot count out the shorter distances like the 1500m. The 5km could be the perfect combination of a speedy yet endurance event. I like the fact that I’m not racing the same distance week after week. Racing different distances keeps it interesting!’
Elaborating on her reasons why she knows she can go a whole lot quicker, she said: ‘I think I was concerned about going out too hard and having to pay the price. This wasn’t the race to “test myself.” I had one job and that was to break 32:15 minutes.
‘After the race I wasn’t as shattered as I normally am after racing 10km. I was able to cool down with some of my teammates and enjoy some pizza for dinner. Normally after racing 10km I have completely exerted myself and can’t even eat.’
A day or so after her event and she’s since had time to digest the enormity of her achievement. ‘It definitely took a while for everything to sink in but once it did I was very emotional. It’s been my dream ever since I can remember… to compete in the Olympics in South Africa’s green and gold. This was a dream even before I began racing on the track.
‘To now know that I’ve done everything required of me to become an Olympian is an incredible feeling. I, along with my family and husband [Cameron] have made many sacrifices throughout the years to enable me to follow my dream. It would all be worth it if South Africa selects me to be a part of their Olympic team this year.
‘I was overwhelmed with congratulatory texts, messages and phone calls – thank you to everyone who supports me and cheers for me whether it be on the side of the track or on the other side of the world. I am so grateful of all the love and support I am given.’
But for now it’s back to the daily grind. ‘In two weeks time I have my last conference meet. Arkansas is part of the South Eastern Conference and I’ll be competing in the 1500m and 5km that weekend.
‘Then in a month’s time it’s the Regional meet which serves as the qualifying rounds for the NCAA National meet in June.
‘My coach and I haven’t decided what I will attempting to run at Nationals just yet. After racing at the NCAA Division One National Championships the first weekend of June, hopefully I’ll sign a professional contract with a shoe company. And after that I hope to go overseas and race in two or three meets in preparation for the Olympic Games.’
Pictures of Scott-Efurd on her way to an Olympic qualification time in California courtesy of Brandon Sotelo/A Runners Eye