Year in review: Athletics SA shrugs off its hangover to rake in the medals

2011-12-23 09:09

The year turned out well for Athletics South Africa (ASA).

Nine new domestic records, four IAAF world championship medals and a 13-medal sweep at the All Africa Games. And, ASA finally let go of the Leonard Chuene hangover.

Caster Semenya kicked off the year with her return to the domestic track.

The former world 800m champion lined up in the Yellow Pages Series in February and won the PUK McArthur Stadium race.

She failed to dip under two minutes in four local meet appearances but deposed Mapaseka Makhanya of the SA senior championship title in April.

Also in February, 400m hurdler LJ van Zyl clocked 47.66 for the fastest time in the world this year, breaking Llewellyn Herbert’s 11-year-old domestic record.

The Tuks Athletics hurdler equalled his feat at the 50th Ostrava Spike in the Czech Republic in May.

Van Zyl closed his year with a bronze medal at the World Championships in South Korea.

He added a silver to his collection with the 4x400m relay team substituting Oscar “Blade Runner” Pistorius in the team that had set a new SA record during the qualifiers.

Van Zyl’s double – together with Semenya’s silver and Sunette Viljoen’s bronze – helped Team South Africa to position 17 on the medals table.

World champs novices Cornel Fredericks (400m hurdles) and Luvo Manyonga (long jump) finished fifth in their disciplines.

Manyonga won gold at the All Africa Games in Mozambique in September, accounting for 13 medals of Team SA’s 156.

In May, SA won 34 medals, including 13 gold, at the Africa junior championships in Botswana and 50 medals were won during the Southern Region Youth Championships in Windhoek, Namibia.

Coolboy Ngamole ran 2:10.43 in the marathon to become only the second South African after Lusapho April (2:09) to make the IAAF top list in the sub-2:10 this year.

ASA filled the presidency and vice-presidency posts, vacant since the suspension of president Chuene and his deputy, Kakata Maponyane, two years ago.

James Evans and Motlatsi Keikabile were given the posts until the next elective conference in April.

ASA also appointed Frederick “Frik” Vermaak as the new chief executive on December 14.

» The country also created waves in the pool with the arrival of Chad le Clos.

The 19-year-old clinched 35 medals during the Fina Swimming World Cup series between October and November.

Pistorius became the first amputee to compete with able-bodied athletes at the track and field World Championships – and he is in the running for a historic Olympic qualification.

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