Scottburgh’s Johnathan Rorke took to King’s Beach to confirm his anointment as South Africa’s new king of beach sprinting.
Rorke beat legendary South African sprinter and former world champion Ryle de Morny for the second successive year at the General Tire Lifesaving South Africa National Championships on Thursday.
False Bay’s De Morny, for the past 10 years, had owned the crown of sprint king in South African lifesaving.
He had won 10 World Championship medals, including twice winning gold at the World Championships.
Rorke, a year ago, raced De Morny for the first time in what was the 20-year-old’s first ever appearance at the national championships.
The return of beach sprinting’s most anticipated final was in total contrast to 2017, when it rained and the sand was damp.
Rorke was also a rookie a year ago, but in the sweltering heat of Port Elizabeth, he was on fire.
De Morny, in the build-up to the National Championships, said he would have to run the race of his career to beat Rorke.
De Morny had followed Rorke’s progress in 2017, and the iconic sprinter spoke more about respect than revenge.
Rorke was as complimentary of De Morny’s career, and said to beat the best would take a career-best effort.
Rorke delivered on the promise of 2017 with an emphatic victory.
“I can only focus on my preparation, state of mind and performance,” Rorke said in the build-up to the National Championships.
He felt it would be doing himself a disservice to race the legend of De Morny. “I am well prepared, and if I produce my best in the final, I believe I am good enough to win.”
Rorke was true to his word, and his victory is significant to Team South Africa’s World Championship challenge in Australia later this year.
De Morny wasn’t the only iconic veteran feeling the next generation heat in Port Elizabeth; long-time beach queen of the flags and sprints Mandi Maritz also had to contend with the emerging brilliance of Kwazulu-Natal’s Bianca von Bargen.
Maritz had won and lost against Von Bargen in the 2018 KZN Provincial Championships, and in a Flags final of high intensity and quality, Maritz refused to give up her crown in taking gold.
The drama of the Sprint and Flags finals extended to the Tube Rescue, with the local Summerstand quartet of Daniel Jones, Byron Lockett, Tristan Jones and Shane Stevens winning a photo finish against Durban Surf.
Marine’s Kyeta Purchase won the Women’s Open Single Ski, and Luke and Adam Nisbet were near perfect in winning the Men’s Board Rescue final.
Durban Surf’s Shaun Diaz showed great surf skills as he beat the country’s best sea swimmers in the final of the Men’s Open Run Swim Run, and club mate Nhlanhla Msani triumphed in the Open Male 2km beach run.
New Zealand’s Rachael Clark, competing as a foreign guest, won the Women’s Open Iron event.
But the National Championship competition rules exclude foreign guest participants from claiming the title.
In this instance, the record books will reflect the title winner as Lifesaving South Africa’s 2017 Female Athlete of the Year Carmel Billson, who finished second and was the highest-placed South African.
* Find all the results at the following links: