Olympic hopefuls

2012-06-27 00:00

SOUTH African athletes have now finished their European track-and-field competition this past week. Anaso Jobodwana secured his Olympics qualification in the 200 metres, when he posted a 20,32 second time in Oxford and then won last week’s Slovenia race in 20,50 seconds, which was 0,05 seconds under the required mark.

According to the Eastern Cape-based sprinter, his sights were set on the 2016 Games in Rio.

“I was injured, and didn’t run in the 2011 season. After the indoor season, I just felt like I should give it a try as I did well there.”

The 19-year-old will represent South Africa at the Africa Senior Championships in Benin in the men’s 200 metres, his first major championship.

“All I’m focusing on at the moment is improving my time. I am hoping to make it to the final, and from there on win a medal,” he said.

Simon Magakwe and Thuso Mpuang will also compete in this event, with both athletes still looking to dip under the 20,55-seconds mark once in order to qualify for the Olympics.

Jobodwana is ranked 19th in the world and he, along with Magakwe and Mpuang, have the highest rankings in Africa.

The CAA Africa Senior Championships will take place in Porto Novo, Benin, from today through to July 1, which is also the final opportunity for athletes to secure their place in London.

Although securing good positions in races, many leading South African athletes have still to make the agreed standard.

Oscar Pistorius ran in the 400 metres in Belgium on Saturday, but his 46,20 time was well off the required standard.

It was a similar story for Juan van Deventer, who won the men’s 1 500 metres in 3:40,85, over five seconds slower than the Olympics standard.

Van Deventer has been in a race against time to get fit and qualify for the Olympic Games, after a car knocked him over while training in May 2011.

In Benin, African record holder and world leading performer Sunette Viljoen will be looking for her third successive javelin title.

After struggling with a minor back injury, the 29-year-old won the SA Championships with an Olympic qualifying throw of 61,15 metres, and then improved her personal best in the Diamond League in Rome with a massive 69,35 metres.

Reigning Africa 400-metres hurdles champion L.J. van Zyl chases a record-breaking fourth consecutive title.

“Achieving this will be very special as no other athlete has ever done it. It won’t be easy, but I am going to try my best,” said Van Zyl, who won gold in 2006 (Bambous, Mauritius), 2008 (Addis Ababa, Ethiopia) and 2010 (Nairobi, Kenya).

Forest Hills hosts its 10 kilometre race on Sunday from their clubhouse at 7 am. This is a fast figure-of-eight route, although many underestimate the gradual climbs in the early kilometres. Clubs are reminded to have their tents erected after 3 pm on Saturday afternoon. For more information, phone Lin at 083 799 9520.

Yellowwood Park Athletic Club hosts the fifth cross-country league on Saturday, at the Kenneth Stainbank Nature Reserve. Inquries: Mike Sutton at 082 961 1615.

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