Cape Town - She has just run a new 200m personal best at the African Championships and won her first senior medal, but Alyssa Conley believes she can go even quicker at the Rio Olympics.
Conley won both the 100m and 200m titles at the SA championships in April, but had a false start in her 100m heat at the African event in Durban last week.
The 25-year-old from Johannesburg, though, had told Independent Media before the meeting started that her main focus was on the 200m at the Kings Park Athletics Stadium, and after going close to her personal best of 23 seconds flat in her semi-final on Saturday, she was all set to run a sub-23 for the first time in her career.
But the Ivory Coast’s Marie-Josee Ta Lou had other ideas. With her more famous compatriot Murielle Ahouré opting to do just the 100m, Ta Lou blasted out of the blocks in Sunday’s 200m final and had built up a good lead on the rest of the field.
Ta Lou - who has a personal best of 22.56 - kept going all the way to the end, but it was Conley who finished the stronger of the tour. The South African made up significant ground on her rival, but her charge came just too late and she was pipped on the line.
Ta Lou won in 22.81, with Conley taking silver in 22.84. “My form around the bend was not me at all. Usually I execute so well around the bend, (but) for some or other reason, this time the bend was my weakest point. That meant I had to work extremely hard in the straight and for me the race was really like about a metre short,” Conley told the Sascoc website on Tuesday.
“I’m super happy about the personal best, but bitterly disappointed in my execution once again. I crossed the line and I just knew that the gold medal should have been mine, so I guess that explains the disappointed face in the photos of the race.”
But apart from the 100m lapse, it was still a positive weekend for Conley after she played her part in running the second leg to win gold for the women’s 4x100m relay team ahead of Ghana and Ivory Coast. Conley ran a new personal best of 11.23 in the 100m in Gavardo, Italy late last month, and feels that she can be a contender to reach the final in both sprints at the Rio Olympics.
She is set to return to her European training base in Gemona, Italy later this week before running a few races before Rio. “I’m still happy with my determination, form and conditioning. Running 22.84 shows that I’m in good shape going to Rio and the Olympics. I just need to carry on working hard,” Conley said.
“My goal will be another PB in Rio and also pushing to making the final. In Rio I’ll race both sprints, with hopes for personal bests in both. The encouraging thing is knowing that there are areas that I can tweak to improve. I am in faster shape.
“For now, it’s just about execution, execution and execution. But coming back after three years out (with injuries), it can only be upward and onwards and I’m looking forward to the future.”