SA record in Jobodwana’s reach

2013-05-29 00:00

HURDLER LJ van Zyl looks to be coming on form at the correct time this year.

Van Zyl, who was initially renowned for his late surge, ran 22,63 seconds in the rarely run 200-metres hurdles to beat Olympic gold medallist Felix Sanchez and home favourite Jack Green in the Great City Games in Manchester. This was only his second hurdles race of the season (the previous was a 400 m hurdles in Doha on May 10) and continues his focus on speed work in preparation for the World Championships in Moscow.

South Africa’s 20-year-old Olympic sprinter, Anaso Jobodwana, looks ready to take the SA record. Competing in championships in East Greensboro, U.S., Jobodwana recorded 10,14 sec in the heats and then improved the performance in the semi-finals where he crossed the line in 10,10 sec, edging closer to the SA record time of 10,06 sec.

The promising athlete set the world’s third best 200 m time of the season with a personal best of 20,13sec.

In New York, previous world indoor champion and Olympic silver medallist Mbulaeni Mulaudzi made a useful return to competition after a year out with a hamstring injury. Mulaudzi finished fourth in the 800 m in 1:47,46 behind world record-holder David Rudisha (1:45,14). Inclement weather put paid to hopes of top performances at this meeting.

At the other end of the distance scale, Japan’s Mami Kudo set two world bests in the Netherlands when winning the World 24-hour Championships with a total of 252,205 km in 24 hours, reaching the 200 km mark along the way in 18:45,51.

Back home, the SA 10 km Championship saw Deirdre Larkin set a new world 80+ age record for the distance. Although Larkin was born in United Kingdom, she has been a permanent resident in South Africa since 1970 and so this will also be a South African record.

There has been a last-minute cancellation of the Southern Regional Youth Championships, which were to be held in Botswana this weekend. It is not clear where or when these will now be held.

This week sees only two events.

The Youth Run will be held from Hoy Park on Saturday at 8.30 am and offers both the 10 km and five-kilometre distances. Entries will be taken at the Comrades Expo until Friday night. The focus will be on youth runners with prizes to the first 10 junior men and women. More details are available from the KwaZulu-Natal office at 031 312 9374.

The big event of the weekend is Sunday’s 88th Comrades Marathon. This commences with the three-day Expo at both Durban Exhibition Centre and Comrades Marathon House in Pietermaritzburg. Of the 19 722 entries, it can be expected that 15 000 runners will complete the 86,6 km journey from the Durban Post Office to the Oval in Pietermaritzburg.

This year, 22% of the field are women, while there is a similar percentage of novices and around seven percent of international runners. Slowly, the average age of Comrades runners is coming down. This year it has dropped to 41 for male and 40 for female participants, and this is a good sign for the future of the race, although possibly not so good in terms of South Africa’s performances at shorter distances.

The race this year is the most open since 1989 with no clear male favourite, although Stephen Muzhingi has one of the best records and has been remarkably quiet in the build-up. A cool head could see him regain his crown.

The Russian Nurgalieva twins look to spearhead the women again, but behind them are a mass of gold-medal contenders and with the international injury dropouts, it is possible that this year will see six or seven South African women taking gold.

Apart from KZN-based Muzhingi, the province can look to Bongmusa Mthembu, Kerry Koen and Melanie van Rooyen as some of medal contenders, but watch also for the likes of Jonas Buud and Ludwick Mamabolo.

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