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Tales of track frustration but there’s also hope for the future

DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA - JUNE 23: Cornel Fredericks of South Africa in the semi final of the mens 400m hurdles during the afternoon session on day 2 of the CAA 20th African Senior Championships at Kings Park Athletic stadium on June 23, 2016 in Durban, South Africa. (Photo by Roger Sedres/Gallo Images)

By Mark Etheridge

While there’s been some recent Olympic Games frustration for established track athletes Cornel Fredericks and Johan Cronje, some of South Africa’s junior athletes are looking positive ahead of the upcoming IAAF Junior World Athletics Championships in Poland.
With the 2016 Olympic team for Rio due to be announced by SASCOC in Johannesburg on Thursday after Monday’s qualifying date cut-off for athletics, it would seem as though Cronje and Fredericks are on the outside and looking in for their respective 1500 and 400-metre hurdles event.
Cronje just missed out on the 3min 36.20sec qualifying time with his qualifying campaign dogged by various injuries and illness setbacks.
Should he not make the final cut on Thursday it means the 2013 World Championships bronze medallist would have missed out on three successive Olympics (2008, 2012 and now 2016) after being part of Team South Africa in Athens, 2004.
Cronje’s last push came in Europe at the weekend where he again missed out.
He’s back home in Bloemfontein now and is re-assessing his season. ‘It’s the same hip that gave me problems earlier, but I’ll be able to fix it quite quickly,’ he told Road to Rio 2016. There was also just the stress regarding Olympic qualifying etc, but I’m over it now.
‘I’ve just come back from the doctor and it sounds like it’s really something simple so I should be able to get back to normal by this weekend already. But I think I’ll rather start preparing for next season than go and compete in Europe again. That way I can get a headstart on the people going to Rio,’ he said in typical positive fashion.
He admits to feeling somewhat cursed by an Olympic dose of bad luck after missing out on so many occasions. ‘Yes, that’s about right, but that’s life. I can cry about it or see the positive. Who knows, next year will probably be one of my best years? I’m getting over it much easier than last time, I must say!
Reigning Commonwealth Games champion Fredericks, who failed to run a qualifying time of 49.40sec in the required time period, is also taking stock after his most recent race earlier this month. ‘Sure, I’m disappointed and hurt but right now I have to be strong and take it on the chin. I have to pick myself up and just come back stronger. I’m still positive and hungry but need to sit down, reflect on the past season and adjust for next season.
Meanwhile the future generation are taking great strides ahead of the World Junior Championships.
Coach Juan Strydom told Road to Rio 2016 from Europe. ‘Jeanelle Griesel ran a season’s best last night in the 400m time with a time of 53.93sec in Oordegem, Belgium.

DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA - JUNE 26: Jeanelle Griesel of South Africa starts the women's 4x400m relay during the afternoon session on day 5 of the CAA 20th African Senior Championships at Kings Park Athletic stadium on June 26, 2016 in Durban, South Africa. (Photo by Roger Sedres/Gallo Images)

‘It was her last 400m in preparation for World Juniors. On Friday she’ll do a 100m race in Belgium as her last speed session.
‘Braam Bisschop, also a junior, ran a personal best 400m at the same meeting, with a time of 47.15 so we’re are very happy.’
Both young athletes were second in their respective races.
Griessel, pictured right, was part of the victorious SA 4x400m women’s relay team at the recent African Athletics Championships in Durban.

Pictures of Fredericks and Griessel both courtesy of Roger Sedres/ImageSA


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