SA athletes raise the bar at world champs

2011-07-16 15:14

South Africa has underlined its dominance in the field events, with four of the five-medal haul from the recent – July 6-10 – IAAF World Youth Championships being contributed by field athletes.

This is the view of Danie Cornelius, the coach who was instrumental in leading Team South Africa at the youth showpiece that ended last weekend in Lille, France.

Those who brought the glory home were 110m hurdler Andries van der Merwe (17) and javelin thrower Reinhard van Zyl (17). They each clinched gold in their respective events.

Another javelin thrower, Morne Moolman (16) and triple jumper Albert Janki (17), each won silver while Gerhard de Beer (17), a discus thrower, scooped bronze.

South Africa finished joint sixth with Ethiopia on the final medal table, one of the best ­finishes in a decade for the country.

Cornelius, who is manager of Tuks Athletics in Pretoria, said the 36-member team he travelled with should form the core of future South African track and field teams.

“In my opinion, these youngsters should be well looked after by the athletics federation as they have the potential to form the core of our 2016 and 2020 Olympics teams,” he said.

Cornelius said of the youth championships heroes: “Reinhard is a dedicated young man with his feet on the ground.
“Winning gold was beyond

his expectations but because he was positive going into the final, he finished first.

“Janki is full of surprises. He virtually came from nowhere to win the silver medal and recorded a massive leap of 15.95m in his final jump,” added Cornelius of the athlete from Welkom, Free State.

Prior to the World Youth Championships, Van der Merwe set the two fastest times in the 110m hurdles this year and
was already the top-ranked youth athlete in the world.

The youngster clocked 13.41 – which was the second-fastest time of the year, just a couple of hundredths off his own personal best – en route to snatching South Africa’s first gold at last week’s global showpiece.

And Moolman shrugged off an elbow strain with an 83.16m throw to mark a championship record during the qualifiers.

Apart from their five-medal haul, Team South Africa reached finals in 12 disciplines while seven athletes bettered their personal best performances.

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