SA shot put star Miné de Klerk bags gold at World Under-20 Champs in Kenya
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CAPE TOWN - Miné De Klerk led from the front again on Saturday when South Africa raked in four more medals on Day 4 of the World Athletics Under-20 Championships in Nairobi, Kenya.
De Klerk dominated the women's shot put final, winning gold with a best attempt of 17.40m. It was her second medal of the showpiece after she grabbed silver in the discus throw the day before.
Her compatriot, Dane Roets, wrapped up an impressive SA double by taking bronze in the shot put with a 15.61m heave, while Pinar Akyol of Turkey earned silver (16.72m).
On the track, Matthys Nortje delivered a stunning performance in a hard-fought men's 400m final, earning bronze in a personal best of 45.32. Though he missed out on the podium, Lythe Pillay also set a career-best (45.53) to finish fourth in the one-lap sprint. Anthony Pesela of Botswana won gold in 44.58.
“I never expected to claim bronze, going by the tough opponents I was up against,” Nortje said. “My compatriot Pillay was the favourite by far, given the kind of experience he has had this season. I will take a few weeks off to reflect on the season.”
Fellow sprinter, Sinesipho Dambile, snatched bronze to round off the country’s 4th medal in the men's 200m final. Dambile set a season's best of 20.48 to finish third in a race won by Nigerian athlete Udodi Chudi Onwuzurike in 20.21.
“It was a pretty good race and I'm happy I won this bronze medal for my brother who died in a road accident last year. I dedicate it to him,” Dambile said. “I also didn't have good preparations because of a nagging injury, but now I'm ok. I will go back home and train for next year's World Athletics Championships (in Eugene).”
In the women's 400m final, Precious Molepo ended fifth in 53.98, with Imaobong Nse Uko of Nigeria securing victory in 51.55.
High jumper Brian Raats was fifth in the final of his specialist discipline, clearing the bar at 2.14m.
Yonathan Kapitolnik of Israel won gold with a 2.26m clearance.
Displaying fine form, the SA 4x100m relay team of Mihlali Xhotyeni, Henru Olivier, Letlhogonolo Moleyane and Bradley Oliphant, won their first-round heat in 39.33 to equal the African U20 record set by Silisapho Dingiswayo, Thando Dlodlo, Tsebo Matsoso and Retshidisitswe Mlenga in Boksburg in March 2018.
They will line up again in the relay final on Sunday.
The SA men's 4x400m team - Divan Vlok, Adrian John Swart, Keanu Domingo and Ryan Jordan - ended fifth in their heat in 3:10.45 and did not progress to the final.
Discus thrower Juan Oosthuizen was 12th in the qualifying round with a 50.19m effort, booking his place in Sunday's final. Marissa Swanepoel finished 17th in the women's 10 000m walk in 51:59.20 and Janise Nell ended 23rd in 54:30.80.
Abednico Choba finished fifth in his 800m semi-final, setting a personal best of 1:48.23 while Christiaan Venter was seventh in his 400m hurdles semi-final in 54.71, with both athletes missing out on the finals of their respective events.
A satisfied James Moloi, the President of Athletics South Africa, said: “This has been a successful day at the office for Team SA today. The grit and determination seen in the day’s competition was a marvel to watch in our athletes. We congratulate all athletes who won us medals and wish those still in competition well.”
After four days of competition, the SA team was in sixth position in the overall table with eight medals (two gold, two silver and four bronze).