SA students shine in Beijing

2001-08-30 22:26

Pretoria - South African athletes enjoyed an outstanding day when the 21st World Student Games entered its fourth day in Beijing on Thursday.

The Tuks athletes, Karel Potgieter (shot) and Elizna Naude (discus), finished fourth and fifth in their events while three other members of the SA team recorded the best performances of the day in the qualifying rounds of the men's 200 metres, 400m hurdles and javelin.

Altogether four athletes comfortably moved into the finals while sprinter Corne du Plessis (200 metres) and Kerryn van Zyl (400m hurdles) qualified for the semifinals of their events.

Friday's final

Du Plessis, in particular, was most impressive in the two rounds that were decided. His second round time of 20.63 sec was the fastest of the day and pointed to a possible medal in Friday's final.

The tall RAU student, who was a member of the SA relay team that won the silver medal in the recent world championships in Edmonton, won his first round heat in 21.02 sec and then clocked a fast 20.63 sec in the second round. The semifinals and final will take place on Friday.

Hurdlers Alwyn Myburgh and Martin Willemse, who had to run two races on Thursday, easily cruised into the final of the 400m hurdles. Myburgh, also a member of the SA team to Edmonton, seemed to have regained the form of March this year when he twice ran faster than 49 sec.

In his first race he clocked 49.89 sec and then really showed that he would be a contender for a medal placing when he took care of a strong field with a time of 49.04 sec, the best of the day.

Carlos Silva of Portugal was second in 49.22 sec with Periklis Iakovakis of Greece third in 49.30 sec.

Martin Willemse, who was left out of the SA team to Edmonton because ASA considered him at 26 as too old for international athletics, took things much easier in his two outings by finishing second in both.

In the first round he was beaten by one-hundredth of a second by Marcel Schelbert of Switzerland who crossed the finish line in 50.03 sec.

In the second race experienced Schelbert failed to qualify for the final while Willemse clocked 49.68 sec behind Tien-Wen Chen of Taipei China who won in 49.57 sec.

Javelin throwers

South Africa's two javelin throwers, world junior champion Hardus Pienaar, and Brian Erasmus, both from Potchefstroom University with 80m distances to their credit this year, also progressed to Saturday's final.

Pienaar, world junior champion and a good competitor at top level events, emerged as top qualifier after the two elimination rounds with a good throw of 77.62 metres. He was one of only three athletes who achieved the automatic qualifying distance of 76 metres. Erasmus not only qualified for the final with his throw of 74.13m, the sixth best of the day, also made history on Wednesday when he helped his team to reach the final of the men's 4 x 400m relay.

While Myburgh and Willemse had to run in two hurdles races on Thursday, he made himself available for the 4 x 400m relay heats.

According to the results from China, he joined Adriaan Botha, Corne du Plessis and Johan Cronje and helped them to a second place in their heat behind Ukraine with a time of 3 min 07.26 sec.

The team that will run in the final will look much different because then the selectors will most probably have the two 400m hurdlers and Liod Kgopong at their disposal as well.

Karel Potgieter, who lacked a bit of pre-Games competition, did well to finish fourth with a put of 19.51m. He and Mikulas Konopka, a former world junior champion of the Slovak Republic, had the same distance but the South African had the best second throw of the two.

The gold medal went to Manuel Martinez of Spain who clinched matters with a huge 20.97m.

Although also throwing well below her best, Elizna Naude, did well to finish fifth in the women's discus with 56.46m. Two Chinese athletes, both with distances further than 60 metres, won the gold and silver medals. Naude and Potgieter are both coached by Doep du Preez.

200 metres

Sherwin Vries, the Namibian sprinter who won the 100m at the SASSU championships in the colours of UPE, also qualified for the 200 metres men's semifinals. He won his opening heat in 20.99 sec and then finished second in the following round with a time of 20.81 sec.

Kerryn van Zyl went through to the semifinals of the 400m hurdles for women with a time of 58.44 sec but her teammate, Adri Vlok, was eliminated with her fifth placing and time of 60.74 sec.

With the semis and the final both on Friday, Van Zyl will be hard-pressed to progress to the final eight. She was the 15th fastest of the semifinalists.

Of the other South Africans competing, Ilze Jordaan (200m) and Jouma Kekana (800m) were eliminated in the first round.

Kekana finished fourth with a time of 2 min 07.01 sec while Jordaan struggled to an eighth place in her heat of the 200 metres with a disappointing 25.41 sec.

Friday is the penultimate day of the championships when South Africa's hopes for a medal or two will rest on the shoulders of Corne du Plessis in the 200 metres, Alwyn Myburgh and Martin Willemse in the 400 metres hurdles and Marizca Gertenbach in the high jump.