JOHANNESBURG – When Rikenette Steenkamp starts her international campaign on Monday in Prague, Czech Republic, it won’t just be about winning 100m hurdles races.
What the University of Pretoria athlete is looking for in her European campaign is “competition urgency.”
“I won’t mind finishing second, third or even fourth as long it is a competitive race.
"I will be happy as it will prove that I am on track to achieve what I set out to do and that is to be competitive in international athletics,” said the Tuks athlete who last year became only the second South African athlete to dip under 13 seconds in the 100m hurdles.
Steenkamp is realistic about her goals.
“Last year there was a lot of hype among local athletics fans when I ran 12.99, but in reality, my performance was average when compared to what is happening in international 100m hurdles races. As South African athletes we need to set the bar higher.
“I fully realise that at the moment I am not capable of running 12.50, but I am capable of getting close to 12.80. I love competition as it brings the best out of me.
"If I can race against athletes who are consistently able to run 12.80 and faster, I will be in the mix. I might not win at first but my times will improve, and that is what I want.”
According to the Tuks athlete, her primary goal is to peak at the Athletics World Cup in London (July 14 and 15). Depending on how she feels afterwards she might compete in few more international races later.
“The most important thing I have learned over the last few years is that quality is more important than quantity.
"I cannot race as often as other athletes do. It means I have to be selective as to where I want to race. At most I am capable of running six to seven good races in a season.”
Steenkamp is also looking forward to the African Championships in Nigeria. She is not fazed by the fact that Oluwatobiloba Amusan (Nigeria) won the gold medal at the Commonwealth Games in 12.68.
“I am happy that she got to run such a good time, but it is not as if she is running 12.60 each time she races. If the winning time is going to be around 12.90 at the championships, I will have a definite chance to medal.”
Last year Steenkamp competed in five race in Europe winning four of them. The only time she did not win was in Ostrava, but that was her breakthrough race. She finished second in 12.99 dipping under 13 seconds for the first time.
If it were not for the strong wind from behind Steenkamp would have set a new South African record in the 100m hurdles at the Resisprint International Meeting in Switzerland. She won in a time of 12.92 which is 0.02 faster than the record set by Corien Botha in 1998.
The wind from behind was measured at 2.01m/s which meant it was too strong by 0.01m/s for record purposes.
African News Agency (ANA)