‘This is your year, Wayde’

2014-06-22 15:00

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When SA 400m champion Wayde van Niekerk took the national crown in a personal best of 44.92 in April, then one-lap record holder Hendrick Mokganyetsi went across to him and said: “This is your year, go for it.”

As it turned out, Van Niekerk – who turns 22 next month – last Sunday became the latest sprinter to shatter a long-standing national record.

Multiple national short sprint champion Simon Magakwe bettered the 26-year 100m record with a 9.98 performance at the SA Senior Track and Field Championships in Pretoria in April.

Van Niekerk’s time of 44.38 at the Diamond League meeting in New York displaced Mokganyetsi’s 44.59 that the retired sprinter had set in Yokohama, Japan, in September 2000, three weeks before the Sydney Olympics.

The Kovsies Athletics Club runner came second behind the world-leading 400m runner LaShawn Merritt of the US.

“The weather was perfect in New York for Wayde to run faster,” said Mokganyetsi, who was the joint record holder with Arnaud ­Malherbe, who set the marker in 1999.

“I had spoken to Wayde after the SA champs [in April] and I said to him: ‘It’s your year to do it. Otherwise, if you don’t, it will take you another 15 years to run a record time.’”

Mokganyetsi, who is the regional sports coordinator in the correctional services department in Gauteng, had some advice for Van Niekerk ahead of the Commonwealth Games: “He must not worry about the times but focus on chasing a medal.”

The youngster is among the sprinters who have qualified for the Games that take place in Glasgow, Scotland, from July 23 to August 3.

Van Niekerk, alongside Merritt and Deon Lendore of Trinidad and Tobago, ran the six fastest times this year.

Mokganyetsi said it took some serious long-term planning to run record times even though he achieved his feat 18 months after ­Malherbe became the first South African to break the 45-second ­barrier in 1999.

On why it takes so long for local athletes to break national records, South African athletics statistician and Tuks Athletics manager Danie Cornelius said:“Our athletics season starts in February and carries on until ­August and, as a result, it becomes gruelling for athletes to be physically and mentally ready.

“It means athletes must peak twice [in the same campaign] – at the national championships and then again in August at the time of the major championships. Lack of financial support is another contributing factor as most athletes cannot travel overseas for a lengthy period to participate with the best and be at the top of their game.”

Recently broken SA senior records

Track and field

April 2014: The 100m record of 10.06 set by Johan Rossouw in 1988 had stood for 24 years when Simon Magakwe equalled it two years ago. Magakwe eventually lowered it to a new mark of 9.98 at the SA Senior Track and Field Championships in Pretoria in April.

September 2013: Johan Cronje’s 3:31.93 in Rieti, Italy, broke his national 1?500m record for the second time and improved his own mark by 1.53 seconds.

June 2012: Sunette Viljoen posted an SA record 69.35m heave at the IAAF Diamond League in New York, the distance that improved on her 68.38m, set at the 2011 World Championships in Daegu, South Korea. Viljoen’s 69.35m is also the African and Commonwealth record.

September 2012: Race walker Marc Mundell’s 3:55:32 at the Olympic Games in the 50km event broke his own SA and African record from a previous best time of 4:04:42 in April 2009. Lehann Fourie broke Shaun Bownes’ 11-year record in the 110m hurdles in a time of 13.24.

March 2012: Patience Ntshingila’s leap of 13.89m in the triple jump in Potchefstroom, North West, was 28cm farther than the previous record of Charlene Potgieter, who shattered Charmain Barnard’s 10-year-old SA triple jump record only a month earlier.

September 2011: The SA national team comprising Oscar Pistorius, Willie de Beer, Shane Victor and Ofentse Mogawane ran 2:59.21 at Daegu 2011.

August 2011: Ruben Ramolefi clocked 8:11.50 at the Daegu championship and improved his own SA record in the 3?000m steeplechase – set in 2010 – by 0.13 seconds.

June 2011: Tebogo Masehla attained 9:54.19 in Belgium and improved her own record – set it in 2007 – by 0.92 seconds in the women’s 3?000m steeplechase.

May 2011: LJ van Zyl twice ran 47.66 (also in February 2011) and smashed Llewellyn Herbert’s previous mark of 47.81 that the latter had set in September 2000.

Records still standing for more than a decade...


Hendrick Ramaala: 27:29.94 (10?000m), since February 1999

Shadrack Hoff: 13:14.16 (5?000m), since July 1995

Hezekiel Sepeng: 1:42.69 (800m), since September 1999

Morné Nagel: 20.11 (200m), since April 2002

Matthews Temane: 3:55.4 (one mile), since March 1983

SA national team 4x100m: (Morné Nagel, Corné du Plessis, Lee-Roy Newton, Matthew Quinn) 38.47, since August 2001


Evette de Klerk: 11.06 (100m), since April 1990 and 22.06 (200m) since April 1989

Elana Meyer: 14:44.05 (5?000m), since July 1995 and 30:52.51 (10?000m) since September 1994

Zola Budd Pieterse: 4:23.38 (one mile), since March 1991; and 4:01.81 (1?500m), since March 1984


Hendrick Ramaala: 60:07 (21km), since October 1997

Gert Thys: 2:06:33 (42km), since February 1999; and 2:48:39 (veterans aged 40+), since April 2012

Titus Mamabolo: 2:19:29 (42km), since July 1991; and 66:23 (21km), since May 1991 – both in veterans’ category (age 50+)


Comrades Marathon

Leonid Shvetsov (Russia): 5:20:49 (down run since 2007) and 5:24:49 (up run since 2008)

Frith van der Merwe: 5:54:43 (down run)

Elena Nurgalieva (Russia): 6:09:23 (up run) since 2006

Two Oceans

Thompson Magawana: 3:03:44, since 1988

Frith van der Merwe: 3:30:36, since 1989

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