Cape Town - Alyssa Conley and Henricho Bruintjies rule South Africa!
The sprint stars are the new South African 100m champions after causing huge upsets in their respective finals at the SA National Athletics Championships at Coetzenberg in Stellenbosch on Friday night.
Conley rocked the women’s sprinting landscape as she got the better of SA record holder Carina Horn on the finish line in 11.36 seconds on a rather chilly but clear evening, with Horn coming home in 11.37, with Western Province’s Tamzin Thomas third in 11.67.
“I’ve always believed in myself. I knew it was going to be a tough race, but after the first ASA Night Series when she basically caught up to me, I knew I could do it,” Conley said afterwards. “I was very focused and ready for the final.
“What hasn’t sunk in is that I am back on track. I haven’t been on track for three years due to injuries and setbacks, and what hasn’t sunk in is that I am here again. The next goal is tomorrow in the 200m.”
While Wenda Nel also caught the eye with a world-leading time of 54.84 in the women’s 400m hurdles, it was the two 100m finals that had the boisterous Coetzenberg crowd on their feet.
And the showdown between record-holder Simbine and his main rival Bruintjies lived up to expectations, although the cold weather contributed to the slower time.
But it was Bruintjies who pulled off the victory in 10.17, with Simbine coming in at 10.21 to lose his title.
Simbine – who ran 10.06 in his semi-final, the fastest time at the coast in South Africa – appeared to have injured his hamstring as he was helped off the track by a few athletes, which included his close friend and 400m world champion Wayde van Niekerk.
“Unbelievable, I’m on top of the world! It was nice. For me, the only thing I wanted to do is come out here and take the title. I haven’t been on the podium for a while,” Bruintjies said.
“Time is not important today – it is all about the title and being number one. Times will come.
“I love my new coach, and training with Akani – I think he hurt himself in the race, and as his training partner, I don’t feel good about that. I hope he gets well soon. But training together is working perfectly as we are pushing each other.”
Earlier, Nel came up with a blistering time in what was her first race of the season, and she feels she can run a magical 53-second time, as her personal best is 54.37. Myrtle Bothma’s SA record is 53.74, which is certainly within Nel’s reach.
“It was very nice. I came out with quite a big expectation for myself, but I didn’t want to pressurise myself too much as it is my first meet of the year. I did hope for a sub-55, and I am very happy that I could execute it in that way,” Nel said.
“Stride-pattern worked out, I was just in control. Didn’t go out that fast, so I had a lot of power and strength at the end, and I just fought for the line.
“I hope so (to break 54 seconds)! It is in the planning, and I do hope that everything can work out for that 53 because that will definitely be the kind of time you have to look at to be on the podium at the Olympics.”
In the men’s 400m hurdles, an exciting finish saw LJ van Zyl grab the title ahead of Cornel Fredericks, and even though Van Zyl’s 49.34 wasn’t too quick, he was glad to finish first.
“It’s my 100th time under 49.50, and 138th sub-50, so I’m really glad. This is my 14th SA senior champs and I still love the sport a lot. Irvette (his wife and also an athlete) and I had diarrhoea over the last two days, and the lady who looks after our child,” he said.
“So I almost pulled out of the race as I wasn’t feeling too well this morning. But I did well with a 50.12 in the heat, I knew I could run faster in the final. My coach still wants me to lose 2kg in the next two months, so I must chill on the carbs and I’m not drinking beer!”
There was an upset of sorts in the men’s 5 000m, though, where Stephen Mokoka got the better of Elroy Gelant in 13:40.81, although it was well short of Mokoka’s SA record of 13:11.44.
The highlight in the field events came in the men’s discus, where Boland’s Victor Hogan produced a mammoth throw of 67.62m to clinch the title in a new personal best.
While a big gun such as Piotr Malachowski of Poland hasn’t really begun his season as yet, Hogan is getting closer to Frantz Kruger’s SA record of 70.32m, and he will be pleased to have gone past the Olympic qualifying standard of 65.00m.
As expected, the likes of 400m star Wayde van Niekerk and 800m champion Caster Semenya got through their heats, with their finals will take place on Saturday.
Friday’s Selected Results
1 Sunette Viljoen 59.39m
2 Jo-Ane van Dyk 50.17m
3 Megan Wilke 49.33m
Shot Put Final
1 Ischke Senekal 15.28m
2 Meike Strydom 13.84m
3 Monique Wagner 13.74m
Pole Vault Final
1 Christy Nell 3.50m
2 Jody Sedras 3.50m
3 Kulthoom Gaidien 3.30m
1 Caster Semenya 2:00.46
400m Hurdles Final
1 Wenda Nel 54.84
2 Anneri Moolman 58.66
3 Gezelle Magerman 59.03
1 Alyssa Conley 11.36
2 Carina Horn 11.37
3 Tamzin Thomas 11.67
Triple Jump Final
1 Menzi Mthembu 16.10m
2 Khotso Mokoena 16.02m
3 Jason Sewanyana 14.91m
1 Phil-Mar Janse van Rensburg 78.88m
2 Chad Herman 76.81m
3 Stephan Beukes 74.80m
5 000m Final
1 Stephen Mokoka 13:40.81
2 Elroy Gelant 13:43.43
3 Sibusiso Nzima 13:46.73
1 Victor Hogan 67.62m (world-leading distance)
2 Russel Tucker 63.96m
3 Dewald van Heerden 59.75m
400m Hurdles Final
1 LJ van Zyl 49.34
2 Cornel Fredericks 49.75
3 Constant Pretorius 50.00
1 Wayde van Niekerk 46.54
1 Henricho Bruintjies 10.17
2 Akani Simbine 10.21
3 Emile Erasmus 10.29