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Coertzen has off day in Gotzis but Pretorius posts two personal bests
- Updated: June 1, 2016
By Mark Etheridge
South Africa’s two leading decathletes, 2012 Olympian Willem Coertzen and 2014 Commonwealth Games competitor Fredriech Pretorius were both in action at the weekend’s 42nd Hyo-Meeting in Gotzis, Austria.
And, as is so often the case at the gruelling combined events meetings where success and failure go hand it hand it was a mixed bag of results for the two South Africans.
Coertzen called it quits after five of the 10 events but the up and coming Pretorius will be well satisfied with a 17th spot out of 32 competitors.
Not even 21 yet, Pretorius has many, many years ahead of him before he reaches his full potential.
Said Coertzen who racked up a Rio qualifying total of 8398 at this same meeting last year: ‘It’s still all good, it just wasn’t my day. I picked up a little stomach bug last Wednesday and although I sorted that out I got a massive headache the day before competition and although I took pills to get that away I still felt a bit flat and unresponsive. But that’s how it goes, it can’t always be good, so on to the next one which is Ratingen in Germany on 25-26 June, everything to play for there.’
As for Pretorius he returns with a score of 7675 and although that’s not a personal best for the current national champion he’ll take a lot out of his performance. The competition was won by Canada’s Damien Warner with a score of 8523 from France’s Kevin Mayer (8446).
Pretoria’s Pretorius told Road to Rio 2016: ‘It was a great experience to be part of this event, the spectators and competitors are just phenomenally interested in athletics.’
Apart from weather conditions not being the greatest Pretorius once again had his perpetual problem with poles. ‘I couldn’t bring my own poles over because of financial issues but luckily I could use the Netherlands’ athlete’s poles. And then I went and jumped a personal best 4.70 metres with unknown poles,’ he said.
‘My coach [Irma Reyneke] and I have been working hard on my speed for the last two months. I was battling to get my stride-length better as it was hard to run faster with my “baby steps”.
‘But I also managed a personal best 10.96sec in the 100m when it mattered most!’
Pretorius’ problems are presently in the throwing events with an elbow injury holding him back. ‘It’s been bugging me for most of the year, both training and gym wise. Thankfully there’s nothing wrong with my legs so I can run as much as coach wants,’ he smiled.
‘Overall there’s lots of room for improvement because apart from those PB’s I didn’t get anywhere close to what I’m capable of in the other events. In my long jump I never even hit the board and my high jump was very unrhythmic.’
Continuing with brutal frankness he says: ‘In the 400m I underestimated myself, then the only thing we worked on in the hurdles, I forgot to do and then the javelin was just too painful to throw well.
‘But it’s definitely a step in the right direction in spite of all my injuries this year.’
Paying tribute to coach Reyneke who also looks after many of the country’s top hurdlers, Pretorius said: ‘I’ve been working with her for eight years and she’s always there for her athletes, through thick and thin and there is so much that she sacrifices just to make sure her athletes excel.’
For Reyneke’s turn she was equally as proud of Pretorius: ‘He’s both humble and hardworking… watch him in 2020 or so, he’s going to be a very good decathlete.
‘With him only turning 21 later this year there’s a great future for him. It’s amazing that he’s doing so well at this age against guys aged 30. A lot of people don’t understand that a decathlete only really comes into his own around 30. Fredriech will now be working hard to do well at African Championships later this month and he’ll also be eyeing the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia .’
Pretorius’ individual marks in Gotzis were: 100m (10.96sec), long jump (7.13m), shot put (12.88m), high jump (1.91m), 400m (49.57), 110m hurdles (14.50), discus (40.22), pole vault (4.70m), javelin (51.26) and 1500m (4:31.33).