South African athletes surprise at Champs

2009-08-17 00:00

“EXPECT the unexpected” may well be the motto from South Africa’s opening weekend at the 12th World Athletics championships in Berlin.

Ruben Ramolefi left competitors in no doubt of his medal intentions when he dictated the pace from gun to line in the second heat of yesterday’s 3 000 m Steeplechase to become the country’s first finalist.

Holding first or second spot until the final 30 metres, the 31 year-old recorded his third best time of eight minutes 18,24 seconds, but allowed defending World Champion Brimin Kipruto, and multiple-finalist Bouabdellah Tahri from France to slip into the top two spots just before the line. Uganda’s Benjamin Kiplagat, who was part of the breakaway quartet after the first kilometre, was the fourth qualifier.

Running with maturity well beyond her 18 years, Caster Semenya was given a baptism of fire in yesterday’s opening round of the 800 m, which brought back the infamous Mary Dekker – Zola Budd experience of the 1984 Olympics.

The world leader, Semenya, tucked behind Janeth Jepkosgei, from the gun with 2008 world indoor champion, Tetyana Petlyuk, on her shoulder as the field began to jostle for places. Showing amazing control of her momentum Semenya, who was spiked, managed to avoid a grounded Jepkosgei. Although dropping to fifth the Limpopo-based athlete regained composure to take line honours in two minutes 2,51 seconds. American Geena Gall and Petlyuk secured the other qualifying spots. Jepkosgei ended her championship defence in seventh.

“I didn’t see anything; I was looking forward and just tried to jump [over Jepkosgei],” said Semenya, with blood oozing from two spike marks on her right leg. “I just wanted to stay in the top three.”

Drama also marked Saturday’s 800 m heats with Johan Cronjé and Peter van der Westhuizen. Van der Westhuizen literally brushed off the illegal attempts of Ireland’s Thomas Chamney to force his way through on the inside. The South African number two finished fifth in 3:42,33, which was sufficient to secure a place in the semi-final.

One of South Africa’s prime medal hopes went with the elimination of L.J. van Zyl in the first of yesterday’s semi-finals of the 400 m hurdles.

South Africa’s new sprinter on the block, Simon Magakwe, impressed to progress through to the 100 m quarterfinals, but battled both the speed and injury to go further. The fast- starting 23-year-old who has been training under Usain Bolt’s coach in Jamaica since May, finished third in 10,54 seconds in the first round, but was out-gunned in the quarters where he slowed due to injury.

“Training in Jamaica has helped me a lot because I had no technique before,” said Magakwe, who had painted RSA into his hair to promote the 2010 Fifa World Cup. “The speed I have, but the strength and aggression is missing.”

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.