Long jumpers steal show in Stellenbosch
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Stellenbosch – The second day of the SA Senior Athletics Championships in Stellenbosch on Saturday belonged to the long jumpers with newly crowned women's champion Lynique Prinsloo and men's ace Zarck Visser qualifying for the IAAF World Championships in Russia, in August.
Prinsloo's winning jump of 6.81m was the third best distance by a South African, while Visser's attempt of 8.29m was the second best of all time.
Prinsloo said she did not expect to do as well as she did and was surprised to reach the world A-qualifying mark.
Her training partner Carla Marais finished in second place with the sixth best distance by a South African with her 6.64m attempt, while Nicholeen McLaren clinched the bronze medal with a jump of 6.30m.
“I didn't expect to qualify and I was aiming to do that in Europe in June,” Prinsloo said.
Visser beat Olympic silver medallist Khotso Mokoena for the second consecutive year wrapping the competition up with his first attempt.
Mokoena's jump of 8.11m earned him the silver medal, while junior athlete Duwayne Boer clinched the bronze medal with a 7.81m attempt.
The 23-year-old Visser said he aimed to reach the qualifying mark but doing it on his first approach came as a surprise.
“This was the plan and over the next four meetings I will do better and try to get my personal best higher because I am at the start of my peak,” Visser said.
The championships had its fair share of upsets and the rise of some exciting youngsters in some of the events.
In the absence of Olympic women's 800m silver medallist Caster Semenya, 17-year-old Gena Lofstrand led from the start to win the race in a time of two minutes, 04.60 seconds without much threat from the rest of the field.
“I was surprised and I wasn't sure where the second girl was and was surprised that no one came up next to me,” said the matriculant from St Mary's Diocesan School near Durban.
“I expected to get a medal but I did not know I was going to finish in first place, but I am really happy about that.”
London Olympian Cornel Fredericks won the 400m hurdles title for the third time to reach the A-qualifying time with a quick 48.78 seconds.
His training partner PC Beneke finished second with a time of 49.18 seconds, while junior athlete Constant Pretorius grabbed the bronze medal clocking 50.64 seconds.
“I am very satisfied with today's race considering it was my second race of the year and had recently recovered from my injury,” Fredericks said.
“The injury is now in the past and I am looking forward to a good season in Europe.”
The women's 400m hurdles race saw Annerie Ebersohn scoring an upset as she beat her training partner and defending champion Wenda Nel to claim the title in a time of 56.04 seconds.
Ebersohn and Nel went into the final stretch and were neck and neck at the final hurdle where Nel crashed over the hurdle to see her friend wrest the title from her.
Nel nevertheless managed to get back to her feet to finish second in a time of 58.83 seconds with Helene Swanepoel taking third place in 59.57 seconds.
South African sprinting ace Simon Magakwe wrapped up his campaign in Stellenbosch winning the 200m in a time of 20.59
seconds to complete his second consecutive double after he claimed the 100m title the day before.
He was followed by Thuso Mpuang in second place with a time of 20.60 seconds and the third place Sergio Mullins with a time of 21.09 seconds.
In the men's 1,500m race defending champion Johan Cronje celebrated his 31st birthday by winning the event in a time of three minutes, 38.13 seconds (3:38.13).
Cronje, Juan van Deventer and Folavio Sehohle were involved in an entertaining tussle towards the end of the race.
Despite a strong challenge over the final metres, Van Deventer had to be content with the silver medal in a time of 3:38.40, while Sehohle crossed the line third clocking 3:39.41.
The early part of the race was a pre-scripted encounter with the athletes taking turns to set the pace as they were looking for a fast time in the race.
Cronje's kick over the final 200m proved too strong for Van Deventer and Sehohle, who were still in the race in the final stretch. – Sapa