Young athletes raise hopes for big track

2012-04-07 14:36

Rorisang Ramonnye believes that she is ready for the big stage.

Now in her third season competing as a senior, the Athletics Royal Bafokeng (ARB) sprinter has set her sights on qualifying for the London Olympic Games.

In fact, the 21-year-old 400m specialist has already clocked a time that is not far off the Olympics’ A-standard mark.

She ran 51.61 – which is her personal best – at the second leg of the Yellow Pages series in Tlokwe, North West, a fortnight ago. The mark was a six hundredths of a second over the mandatory 51.55.

“I was angry at myself because I had pushed myself very hard for that race,” said the shy lass from Luka in Phokeng, North West.

“But I am ready for the big stage. I used to be a bit nervous but my coach Eugene Thipe helped me overcome my fears on race day. I am mentally strong now.”

Thipe is the husband of Ramonnye’s training partner and ARB team-mate Tsholofelo Thipe.

“I have a perfect training partner in Tsholofelo because she pushes me all the time.

“She is a fighter and has a big heart too, which are some of the characteristics that I try emulate,” said Ramonnye who has been with ARB since 2005.

Ramonnye, a second-year sports science student at North-West University, said her favourite events were the 100m and 200m races.

“Coach Thipe suggested that my body was not for the 100m and the switch has proved him right as my long legs are doing it for me in the 400m, which is the event I would like to qualify for in the Olympics.”

“My technique has improved but my coach has put emphasis on speed work.”

Ramonnye has already won three 400m races so far this season.

She will line up at the SA Senior Championships in Port Elizabeth next weekend and the Yellow Pages Series III in Pretoria on April 20 in her final push to net the elusive Olympic qualification.

Sylvia Tshetlanyane
The tiny frame of Sylvia Tshetlanyane is deceptive for an athlete who specialises in the demanding distance running events.

But it is her abilities in cross-country, the 3 000m and 5 000m that have seen most of Tshetlanyane’s competitors playing second fiddle.

Her coach Tebogo Mogorosi at Kagiso Striders said he saw the potential in the young runner when he first took her under his wing in 2005.“

She went to her first national competition at 13 and she has set the standards,” said Mogorosi of his protege, who was turned away from competing at an international youth event in France six years ago because she was “too small”.

“The organisers said I was too small and it was heart-breaking just to sit there and watch,” she said.

But Tshetlanyane has grown in stature since then.

Just last weekend, she retained the 3 000m title and completed a double victory in the 5 000m at the Yellow Pages SA Junior and Schools Championships in Germiston.

Barring injuries, which are Tshetlanyane’s worst hurdles according to Mogorosi, the 18-year-old, is a sure bet to qualify for the IAAF World Junior Championships in Spain in July.

This will be Tshetlanyane’s first attempt in the track at the highest level as she has only run the cross- country in the last two years – in Spain (2011) and Poland (2010).

“My goal is to make the national team to the junior world champs and run an SA record there (in Barcelona from July 10-15),” she said.

Tshetlanyane started the year on a high with a win in the SA Cross- Country trials in February.

Her triumph at the Tlokwe meet earned her a berth in the SA team that competed at the African Cross- Country Championships in Cape Town last month where she came 23rd.

Her training partner at Striders, Thabo Madiba (800m), has already qualified for the Spain junior global event

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