Gunning for more glory in 2014

2014-01-01 06:00

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Despite troubles in Athletics SA (ASA) administration, it was not all doom and gloom for South African athletes as a few of them made the headlines on the track in 2013. Daniel Mothowagae picks the top five newsmakers who set athletics ablaze

Lusapho April

Boss of the road

Age: 31

Club: Oxford ­Striders Running Club

Profile: April has ­already hinted that he would gun for this year’s New York Marathon after he placed third on debut last year.

He had such a solid 2013 that he also ran a new personal best of 2:08 ­during his triumph at the Hannover Marathon in Germany in May.

A lot of focus has been on Stephen Mokoka as the next big thing in men road running, but April’s exploits in the 42km have given South Africans high hopes going into this year’s international road events.

Johan Cronje

Unsung hero

Age: 31

Club: Kovsies ­Athletics Club

Profile: At his age, Cronje has certainly matured for his ­specialist event and his performances in the 1?500m in the ended season have ignited hope that he will soon compete in top-end competitions such as the Commonwealth Games and other international meetings in the IAAF Diamond League.

Cronje ran into history at the Moscow world champs when his bronze medal ended South Africa’s drought of not having a top finisher in the 1?500m.

He also bettered the SA 1?500m record twice and in the process ran 3:33.46, which broke the 20-year-old national mark (3:33.56) set by Johan Landsman in August 1993.

Gena Lofstrand

Rising star


Club: Fast Feet Academy

Profile: In the ­absence of Caster Semenya from the domestic ­programme this year, the little-known teenager from KwaZulu-Natal was crowned the SA 800m champion.

Lofstrand’s progress in the junior ranks right through to her senior-stage debut has primed her as the one to watch at this year’s IAAF World Junior Championships.

With Mapaseka Makhanya now focusing on longer distances, there is more space for Lofstrand to mature alongside Semenya over the two-lap distance.

Anaso Jobodwana

A legend in the making

Age: 21

Club: Jackson State University, US

Profile: Any sprinter who comes second to Usain Bolt has to have something special. Jobodwana ­remains Team SA’s trump card as South Africa prepares for the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland, this year.

Continued hope on his special sprinting ­talent once again came to the fore on the world stage in 2013 after he ran closer to the SA 100m and 200m records.

He matched his personal best of 10.10 in the 100m at the World Student Games, a mark that narrowly missed the 10.06 national record jointly held by Johan Rossouw and ­Simon Magakwe.

Jobodwana, the reigning World Student double sprint champion, also clocked 0.11 seconds inside the SA 200m record that has been held by Morné Nagel for 11 years.

Although Jobodwana raced against Bolt twice at the IAAF World Championships in Moscow and came short, he has upped his game since he came to prominence at the ­Olympic Games in London in 2012.

Mapaseka Makhanya

New queen of the road

Age: 24

Club: Transnet ­Athletics Club

Profile: At the pace in which Makhanya has improved ­despite her switch to road events in 2013, athletics ­enthusiasts are keenly waiting to see how she will perform at the Commonwealth Games and other IAAF World Challenge events this year.

No other female athlete came close to ­Makhanya last year. She won big in 2013: SA Sportswoman of the Year; Central Gauteng Star of the Year; SA 1?500m and 5?000m champion; Gauteng Marathon champ and Spar Grand Prix winner.

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