Nikolai van Huyssteen of South Africa will push for a medal in the pole vault after qualifying for the final with the fifth-best height at the Youth Olympics. Photo: Roger Sedres, CanonSA/African News Agency/ANA

BUENOS AIRES – After delivering some solid performances over the first half of the Track and Field competition, the South African Under-18 athletics team are gearing up for a medal charge over the next few days at the IOC Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

A handful of SA athletes were among the top-three in the first stage of their respective disciplines, joining the medal contenders for the finals.

Sprint sensation Luke Davids charged over the line in 10.56 seconds to win his 100m heat, covering the short dash 0.20 faster than his quickest opponent and progressing as the firm favourite for Monday’s final.

Jano Esterhuizen was the also the top performer in stage one of the boys javelin throw launching a personal best (PB) of 77.69m. And he is expected to target the gold medal in the final on Tuesday.

Lindokuhle Gora was second quickest in the boys 400m hurdles heats, clocking a PB of 51.70 and sticking up his hand ahead of Tuesday’s final.

Jason Tito landed at 7.59m, setting a career best with the third best leap in the opening round of the boys long jump. He too is among the potential medallists in Monday’s final.

In the girls shot put, Dane Roets produced a 17.30m effort for the third best heave in stage one and she is gearing up for a podium fight, also on Monday.

In other events, Prudence Sekgodisa finished second in her 800m heat in 2:08.53, showing good form as she progressed to the final on Sunday evening.

In the boys pole vault, Nikolai van Huyssteen cleared the bar at 4.95m for the fifth best height in round one, and is looking good ahead of Tuesday’s final.

Francois Prinsloo produced a 54.07m effort for the eighth best attempt of the boys discus throw opening round. He competes in the final on Sunday. 

Sifiso Miya landed at 15.26m in the boys triple jump – also the eighth best athlete in stage one – and he is hoping to go even further in Tuesday’s final round.

Sifiso Miya reached the final of the triple jump at the Youth Olympics. Photo: Roger Sedres, CanonSA/African News Agency/ANA

Distance runner Carmie Prinsloo was the best of the SA athletes in a final thus far, having opened the nation’s campaign in style on Thursday’s first day of Track and Field competition by taking fourth place in the girls 3 000m race. 

She finished in a PB of 9:18.92, less than four seconds outside a podium place, with Sarah Chelangat of Uganda winning gold in 9:11.63.

Middle-distance runner Nicole Louw clocked 4:27.06 to finish sixth in her heat and seventh overall in the girls 1 500m, which was contested over only one round. 

Speedster Kayla van der Bergh finished third in her 100m hurdles heat in 14.10 seconds  and though she missed out on a place in the medal battle by 0.12, she was due to turn out in heat two of the second stage on Sunday.

Lindukuhle Gora has reached the 400m hurdles final. Photo: Roger Sedres, CanonSA/African News Agency/ANA

Marissa Swanepoel finished 12th in the girls 5 000m race walk heats in a PB of 25:21.85 and she is preparing to line up in the second stage on Tuesday.

Lohan Potgieter produced a 17.35m heave to end 13th in the opening round of the boys shot put, and is scheduled to compete again on Monday, while Bianca Erasmus was 16th in the girls high jump in the first round, clearing 1.65m.

She too is in the start list for Monday’s final.

National youth record holder Gontse Morake struggled in the girls 400m hurdles heats, settling for fifth place in her race in 1:04.35, and she was scheduled to race in the first heat of stage two on Tuesday.

African News Agency (ANA)