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Du Plessis soars highest as wind and cold plagues SA Open
- Updated: May 8, 2016
Athletes battled cold and windy conditions on Saturday in the fight for medals as the two-day SA Open Championships came to a close in Bloemfontein.
The day was highlighted by two surprise performances.
Former Olympic silver medallist Khotso Mokoena, focusing on the triple jump this season, was handed a rare defeat.
African Championships bronze medallist Roger Haitengi of Namibia won gold with a best effort of 16.27 metres, with Mokoena grabbing silver, just four centimetres behind.
And Zoe Engler stunned World Student Games champion Justine Palframan, taking the women’s 400m title in 53.79, with Palframan settling for second spot in 54.32.
In her defence though Palframan has been battling some health issues recently, meaning she missed SA Championships on her home track of Stellenbosch last month.
Producing perhaps the best women’s field event performance of the day, Julia du Plessis won the women’s high jump competition, sailing over the bar at 1.80m.
Lindsay Hanekom, who met the qualifying standard for the Rio Olympics with a 49.03 performance in the heats the day before, did enough to bag the men’s 400m hurdles title in 50.50.
Namibian athlete Hardus Maritz, who had gone out hard to take the early lead, was edged into second place in 50.56.
In the men’s flat 400m race, Sonwabiso Skhosana came out on top, crossing the line in 46.35 with three other athletes dipping under 47 seconds.
Elsewhere among the speedsters, Roscoe Engel held off World Youth Championships silver medallist Kyle Appel by 0.02 to win the 200m final in 21.18.
Delivering a fine solo performance in the men’s 3 000m steeplechase, Tumelo Motlagale led from start to finish, securing a convincing victory in 8:54.42.
Infield, Russell Tucker was in a class of his own, earning the gold medal with a 59.48m heave in the discus, more than five metres clear of his nearest opponent.
Claudia Heunis was on form in the women’s 100m hurdles final, covering the sprint race over the barriers in 13.53, with versatile athlete Maryke Brits crossing the line 0.02 off the pace, while Anneri Moolman dominated the women’s 400m hurdles, coasting to victory in 59.76.
Picture of high jump winner Julia du Plessis in action courtesy of ROGER SEDRES/ImageSA