It was the Akani Simbine and Caster Semenya show at the first of the two Varsity Athletics Meetings on Friday 18 March at UJ Stadium in Johannesburg. Everyone had come out to see the new South African 100m Record Holder on the fast blue track at the University of Johannesburg. Whilst Simbine did not threaten his own record of 9.96sec he nevertheless showed he is top dog in the short sprints. Simbine cruised to a 10.18sec win and earned his university, Tuks, 1147 points.
Those points will be vital if Tuks hope to retain their overall unbeaten record in the competition since its inception in 2009.
“My body is tired. So I focused on my technique and executing it well. I did that, so I am happy.”
A lean, fit and strong Caster Semenya has sent a warning shot across the bow of her rivals at the Rio Olympics in the 800m. The 2009 World Champion and 2011 World and 2012 Olympic Silver medalist gave notice of her intentions to chase Gold in Rio when she ran a massive personal best in the 400m at the ACNW Provincial Championships, clocking 51.47sec. Tonight at UJ Caster Semenya was imperious, decimating the field whilst running 52.45sec.
“It feels great to be back in good shape. I really enjoyed being out there tonight. Everything is falling into shape for Rio, so I am really happy.” Semenya’s time is new Wimpy record (Varsity Athletics Record). The previous one of 53.95sec behind the name of Justine Palframan.
Earlier the evening got off to an incredible start when young Clarence Munyai from the Tuks Sport School ran a massive lifetime best time in the Boys Junior 200m. Munyai who trains with Hennie Kriel blitzed the bend to scream home in 20.39sec. That is a massive improvement on his previous best of 20.71sec and an Olympic Qualifier to boot. In the process he upset Tlotlise Gift Leotlela who was stunned by the fast finishing of Munyai and tensed in the final metres. Leotlela also improving on his personal best of 20.63sec to 20.54sec. “I knew when he joined me in July 2014 that we had a gem on our hands,” his coach Hennie Kriel explained. “I always believed in him, and tonight he showed what he can do. Watch him in the near future.”
Clarence could not stop smiling after the race. “The goal is the World Junior Championships this year, but after tonight I may need to rethink that. I have set an Olympic Qualifier,” he smiles sheepishly. “But I do know there is a lot of hard work to be done before I can even think about the Games. I do expect though to medal at the SA National Championships in the 200m.” Confidence personified.
In front his home crowd, High Hurdler Tshepo Lefete bagged maximum points for the host university UJ, destroying the field and crossing the line in 13.72sec. Tian Smit from Tuks having to settle for second clocking 14sec dead.
Taylon Bieldt who won the 400m hurdles at the Africa Youth Championships in 2015, made an impressive start to her senior career. Bieldt was untouchable as she flew along in lane 8 and crossed the line in 13.73sec.
3000m Steeple Chaser Rantso Mokopane was in a class of his own in the 1500m, taking the lead from the gun and was never challenged. “I have mixed feelings about the time. I was hoping to go faster. But it’s ok. It’s all about the points.” Mokopane won in 3:49.42 ahead of Goitsimodimo Bothlolo (3:51.24)
Leroux Hamman fired a warning shot to his rivals in the 400m hurdles. The Tuks athlete blasted out of the blocks and was never headed, Hamman breaking the 50sec barrier for the first time in his career was timed at 49.99sec. “I’m ecstatic,” said the Tuks Athlete. I’m coming into form nicely now at the right time and to be able to add 1130 valuable points to my team is always good. We want to defend our title.” Hamman referring to the fact that the University of Pretoria (Tuks) having never been beaten since the inception of Varsity Athletics in 2009.
The women’s 400m hurdles had the crowd waiting in anticipation as sensation Gezelle Magerman took to the track. Magerman flew out the blocks and was streaks ahead after 200m. Coming into the home straight she tied up before the final hurdle, lost her rhythm and was passed Maties athlete Jean Marie Senekal who was timed at 58.53sec with Magerman finishing second in 58.83sec.
Gena Lofstrand was in indomitable form in the women’s 800m. Coming through bell in 61seconds, Lofstrand, a former SA Junior and Senior Champion was too strong for the field clocking 2:10.62.
One of the most eagerly anticipated races of the evening, the men’s 800m, lived up to its billing as Bloemfontein University’s Rynhardt van Rensburg set out a grueling pace, leading the eight athletes through the 400m in 55sec. They were cueing up behind the Kovsies athlete as they entered the home straight, but van Ransburg’s experience and sheer tenacity saw him win in.
“It’s my first race of the season, so I am quite happy. I had a bit of an Achilles niggle after I came back from AfriSki but I’m healthy now and that’s what is important.”
Despite an abductor muscle niggle, there was no stopping Lynique Prinsloo in the women’s Long Jump as she represented the host university. Prinsloo landed 6.43m jump to beat Matie Sam Pretorius by 22cm.
In the women’s 100m Tebogo Mamatu of Tuks blitzed the field, clocking 11.63sec to break the previous Varsity Athletics Record of 11.71sec set by Melissa Hewitt.
1. Akani Simbine TUKS 10.18sec
2. Thando Roto TUKS 10.32sec
3. Samkelo Sabelo UJ 10.41sec
1. Tebogo Mamatu TUKS 11.64sec
2. Melissa Hewitt-Swanepoel PUKKE 11.93sec
3. Elzette Buys TUKS 12.41sec
1. Justine Palframn MATIES 23.65sec
2. Margeret Olwoch TUKS 24.23sec
3. Ariane Nel PUKKE 24.29sec
100m Hurdles Women
1. Taylon Bieldt UIT 13.73sec
2. Lizzy Kriel KOVSIES 14.08sec
3. Mercia Venter PUKKE 14.10sec
110m Hurdles Men
1. Tshepo Lafete UJ 13.72sec
2. Tiaan Smit UKS 14.00sec
3. Andre September UWC 14.68sec
1. Rynhardt van Rensburg KOVSIES 1:50.95
2. Duran Faro UWC 1:51.28
3. Thabang Matiwane UJ 1:51.79
Long Jump Women
1. Lynique Prinsloo UJ 6.43m
2. Samantha Pretorius MATIES 6.21m
3. Samantha Ross UWC 5.84m
Final team standings:
2 UJ: 15375
3 Pukke: 15294
4 Kovsies: 14505
5 Maties: 14098
6 UWC: 14015
7 Madibaz: 13759
8 TUT: 13147
1 UCT: 8043
2 UL: 6571
3 VUT: 6037
4 CUT: 5721
By Manfred Seidler