World 400m record-holder Wayde van Niekerk’s injury bogey striking again and ruling him out of this year’s SA National Track and Field Championships, which finished in Cape Town on Saturday, will put him under pressure to qualify for the World Championships.
Having made the trip from Florida, US, to compete in the 200m at the national champs this weekend, Van Niekerk – who has had been dogged by injuries since writing off his knee in that infamous touch rugby game in 2017 – had to cry off with a hamstring strain.
It’s a situation that seems to repeat itself each year for the 2016 Olympic champion, who also decided not to run at the national champs in Germiston, Johannesburg, in 2019 as a precaution because it was raining on the day.
The knock-on effect is that missing out on early opportunities to lay some kind of marker in a year in which the African Championships, the Commonwealth Games (Birmingham) and the World Championships (Oregon) are taking place.
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The good news is that there’s a second bite at the domestic qualifying theory this year at the national trials, which will be held in Durban next month.
Looking at the national champs results, the idea that there will be a second chance to qualify may have been in the back of the minds of those who did compete at the national champs – well, either that or the windy conditions at Green Point Stadium prevailed.
An uncharacteristically emotional Akani Simbine – who wagged a defiant finger at the end of his race – won the 100m title in a time of 10.31sec. Having set the Africa 100m record just last year, before losing it and the 100m race at the fourth ASA Grand Prix in Germiston to Kenyan Ferdinand Omanyala, Simbine looked to have taken that a bit personally.
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But he is safe in the knowledge that the Africa record time of 9.84sec in Hungary last year has provisionally qualified him for Oregon.
In the women’s 5 000m, Caster Semenya’s battle to qualify for this distance since being declared ineligible to compete in the 800m continued with an understandable defeat to defending champion Dominic Scott, who finished three seconds ahead of the former double Olympic champ in 15 minutes, 28.10 seconds.
Twenty-year-old Prudence Sekgodiso surprised everyone on Friday evening by winning the women’s 1 500m in a time of 4:16.38.
South African women’s 100m record holder Carina Horn continued to ease her way back into competition by winning the women’s title in a pedestrian time – by her previous standards – of 11.54sec.
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Women’s national 100m hurdles champion Marione Fourie was thwarted by the windy conditions in her attempts to dip under 13 seconds again, having done so in Germiston to be the first South African to do it domestically.
As things stand, other provisional qualifiers for Oregon are Clarence Munyai (100m, 10.04sec) and race walker Wayne Snyman with a time of 1:20.39 from earlier this month.
Scott has qualified for both the 5 000m and the 10 000m, while 400m hurdler Zeney van der Walt’s 55.36sec mark from last month has given her the nod.