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Gelant grabs national record as SA athletes shine abroad
- Updated: May 23, 2016
By Mark Etheridge
One national record, more Olympic qualification times and distances, podium places… South Africa’s track and field athletes certainly came out to play around the world on Sunday.
Competitions in Hengelo, Netherlands and Rabat, Morocco saw a whole host of SA athletes taking part.
That national record went the way of Elroy Gelant, the Potchefstroom pocket rocket, whose fourth spot in the 5000-metre in a time of 13min 04.88sec was 6.76sec quicker than the year-old mark of Stephen Mokoka.
The race was won by Ethiopia’s Olympic silver medallist Dejen Gebremeskel in 13:00.99.
The new national recordholder told Road to Rio 2016 after his new mark: ‘I went into the race knowing I was able to run a sub 13:15 because my past week’s training leading up to Hengelo and the FNB 12 One Run indicated I was capable of coming close to the previous South African 5000m record.
‘We started off in rainy weather, so the track was wet and I knew I had to put in something special and even work extra hard to get close to a sub 13:10.
‘The race started and I just believed in myself and ran with passion. It’s a great confidence-booster going forward, especially leading up to Rio in August.
‘We’re capable off much more, we just need to believe…’
Other SA highlights at the World Challenge event in Hengelo were three fourth places. Rynardt van Rensburg ran 1:47.03 in the 800m (1:47.03), Victor Hogan hurled the discus 63.70m and comeback sprinter Alyssa Conley had a solid start to her European season with a 23.17sec time behind Dafne Schippers of Netherlands setting a world-leading 22.02.
National 100m champion Henricho Bruintjies hit a slight hiccup in the 100m, being disqualified after a false start. That was after he had earlier won his heat in 10.26sec.
The only other South African in Hengelo action was long jumper Dylon Cotter who took sixth with 7.36m on the night.
Closer to home and Caster Semenya was capturing the headlines in the Diamond League in Morocco with a season-leading 1:56.64 victory in the 800m. She’s now run three of the four best times in the world this year.
Runner-up Francine Niyonsaba was more than a second adrift in second with a time of 1:57.74.
The other gold-medallist of the night was long jumper and national champion Ruswahl Samaai who improved on his second spot in the Shanghai Diamond League with a career-best equalling 8.38m.
The two other South African medallists were rising star Antonio Alkana who ran a personal best 13.28sec for bronze in the 110m hurdles and fellow hurdler Wenda Nel, bronze in the 400m hurdles.
Alkana is now only 0.04sec off Lehann Fourie’s national mark.
In the 400m hurdles Nel once again had a great start and was right up there going into the home straight but lost one position in the final stages to finish with a 54.88 third spot as Jamaica’s Janeive Russell won in 54.16.
‘It was a bit wind out there but we can’t use that as an excuse,’ said Nel. ‘I think I just started a bit quick and the lactic acid caught me near the end. So I think if we can get the balance right we can hope for big things later one. The positive thing is that compared to SA Champs where I ran pretty much the same time, I felt a lot better after this one.
‘So I must just be very patience and realise it’s only my third race of the season. Now I’m off to train in Germany and the good thing is it will be less travelling before my next race in Rome and hopefully we can get a good time there.’
The women’s sprints saw Austria-based Carina Horn take fourth in the 100m, the joint SA record holder clocking 11.28 as Elaine Thompson of Jamaica won in 11.02.
‘Yes, it’s not too bad a start,’ said Horn. ‘The wind was -1.3m/sec so I’m happy with that time against the wind.
‘Looking back I could have got a better start. It’s a bit difficult being in lane nine, it feels like you’re really not in the race but I’m glad that I came through like I did at the end. Now we focus on our upcoming races again.’
The only other South African in action was 1500m racer Dumisane Hlaselo who took eighth on the night in 3:37.73, still just short of Olympic qualification.
Meanwhile at the Manchester Great City Games TuksSport High School’s Clarence Munyai finished fourth (15.69s) in the 150 metres. Britain’s Harry Aikines Aryeetey won in 15.10, with compatriot Ojie Edoburun second in 15.26s and Norway’s Jaysuma Saidy Ndure third in 15.33.
Picture of Gelant in action, courtesy of Roger Sedres/ImageSA