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Cronje, Conrad have to contend with stiff wind in Switzerland
- Updated: June 9, 2016
By Mark Etheridge
Tuesday night’s Montreuil meeting in Switzerland saw a fourth and sixth-placed finish for South Africans Johan Cronje and Nolene Conrad.
Cronje, bronze medallist in the 1500-metre at the IAAF World Championships three years ago, clocked 3min 37.57sec as he continued to hunt down an Olympic qualifying time of 3:36.20. Winner was Uganda’s Ronald Musagala in 3:36.23, just 0.03sec outside the qualifying time.
Conrad, pictured far right in the main picture, was in action over 5000m and was sixth in 16:03.35 as Ethiopian Gotyton Gebreslase won in 15:08.74.
Cronje, still running with a dodgy groin that will require surgery when the season’s done, said it wasn’t a race without incident as 19 competitors took to the line.
He told Road to Rio 2016: ‘I actually felt really good tonight, the problem was just the race being very overcrowded. There was lots of tripping and pushing. Six guys didn’t finish and one was carried off on a a stretcher!’
But that wasn’t all. ‘A guy stopped right in front of us with 330m to go. He didn’t jump off the track and so we piled up into his back. It was a guy from France, and he was very apologetic afterwards but the reality was that he cost us all a lot of good times.
‘It was actually the same guy that kicked my knee in the semi-final in Beijing last year which I couldn’t recover from.’
‘All I need is that 1.5sec or so,’ he reflected.
Conditions for the meet were predicted to be stormy ‘but in the end only the wind came and it was quite strong against us down the back straight.’
As for Conrad (pictured with Cronje as the two South Africans took in some sight-seeing last week), she lined up hoping for a 5000m personal best.
She told Road to Rio 2016 after returning to her base of Wurth: ‘You can see from the start list I was the slowest on paper but I knew it was a very fast field and I insisted on getting into that race as I needed a fast field to pull me through if I wanted to run a PB.
‘In the end I had to get my own accommodation because I wasn’t fast enough to stay with the rest of the athletes, there was no space for me.
‘So I was determined to show them I belong there and could compete with those athletes. So on the day I travelled to the race, got ready and off we went. The race started off fast they went through the first lap in 68sec, the first bunch of nine athletes.
‘I went through in 70 then I decided to run a sensible race and come through 3000m in a target time of 9:28 which I did.
‘We had a nasty head wind, so when we reached 2400m I was isolated on my own and at 3000m some of the athletes from the first bunch started paying the price for the fast pace and then fell off the lead group.
‘In the end I just missed my target of time of sub 16:00.
‘The last 2km was hard to run in the wind but I’m grateful for a good solid race and it’s my second fastest 5000m ever. I feel I can go faster… and I have another chance on Saturday.’