Rikenette Steenkamp is just a tenth of a second off the SA 100m hurdles record. Photo: Frikkie Kapp, BackpagePix

PRETORIA – Rikenette Steenkamp proved on Saturday by winning the 100m hurdles in a time of 13.04 seconds at a league meeting at Tuks that the 13-second barrier will soon fall for her.

Steenkamp’s next opportunity will be on Friday at the Varsity Athletics Meeting at the University of Pretoria. The Tuks athlete is now officially the second-fastest SA female athlete in the 100m hurdles.

Only Corien Botha, who ran 12.94 in 1999 to set a new national record in Salamanca, has a faster time.

Steenkamp was justifiably relieved to at long last clock a legal time. She was brilliant in Bloemfontein and Pretoria, running times of 13.09 and 13.02.

However, it was debatable whether the timing system worked properly during the ASA Speed Series meeting in Bloemfontein.

Last week during the Gauteng North Championships, the wind from behind was too strong.

It was not the only time this season the wind robbed Steenkamp of a fast time. In her first race in Johannesburg, she ran 13.14, but due to the windy conditions, her time was also not official.

Steenkamp said the wind tends to make things difficult for hurdlers as it pushes them closer to the hurdles, making it difficult to keep your stride length.

The Tuks athlete made it clear that she is not obsessed about a sub-13 second race. It is more important to her to execute her race to perfection.

“If I do so, I know that I will run a fast time, but I must admit it is not as if I am never thinking about dipping under 13 seconds. It is the dream that gets me to keep pushing myself beyond my physical barriers.”

SA 100m hurdler Rikenette Steenkamp wants to be a role model for female athletes. Photo: in-site.co.za

Steenkamp was full of praise for the role her training partner and friend, Claudia Heunis (Tuks Athletics), played in helping her to run 13.04. Heunis set her own new personal best time of 13.23.

“I could feel Claudia pushing from behind the whole time I raced. That was exciting. I truly believe in the principle of success begets success.

“One has just to look at what has been happening in the men’s 100 metres in South African athletics to realise it,” Steenkamp said.

“Last week, the rivalry between Akani Simbine and Thando Roto led to it being the first time that two athletes dipped under 10 seconds in the same race (on SA soil).

“Hopefully my rivalry with Claudia and Maryke Brits is going to lead to something equally as exciting. It is important to me that we leave a legacy behind.

“Our men’s 100-metre athletes are starting to leave a legacy behind. It is high time that our female athletes start doing the same. South African women’s sport is in dire need of role models.”

African News Agency (ANA)