‘Should I race this season or should I not?’ is the dilemma the South African 100m-hurdles record-holder Rikenette Steenkamp is currently facing.
The more the Puma-Tuks athlete thinks about things, the more she realises there is no easy answer.
“As athletes, we are used to have a specific goal and a timeframe in which to achieve it. That is what motivates you. But due to the Covid-19 pandemic, everything has changed. Things are at the moment sort of hanging in the air. We are training, but we are not sure why. Being so uncertain is frustrating.
“To be honest, I still have to decide whether it is worth my while to compete this year. I would prefer not to race as late as October as the aim is to compete indoors again next year. It means my season will start earlier.
“If I should decide to compete now, the immediate question that springs to mind is how am I going to benefit from it? I could try and run 13.2s to sort of keep the momentum going. It might, however, be challenging especially since I have not hurdled in the last four months. I have no idea of what shape I am going to be in. We have only been allowed back on the Tuks athletics track since last week.
“In the end, everything will depend as to the opportunities of where and when I might get to race and what my sponsor’s expectations are.”
Steenkamp added that her coach, Hennie Kriel, had been wanting for years to have time to work on getting her physical stronger and faster, but to her competition schedule, it had never been possible.
“There will never be a better time than now to do so.”
Steenkamp made the most of the few opportunities she had to race this season. In February she twice broke the South African Indoor record for the 60m hurdles by clocking times of 8.29s in Glasgow and then 8.17s in Madrid. It was the first time she competed indoors.
She only once got to compete in the 100m hurdles. It was during the Gauteng North Championships at TuksAthletics Stadium. She won in a time of 13.22s.
Apart from being a four-time national and one-time African champion (2014), Steenkamp athlete also holds the South African 100m-hurdles record. During the Resisprint International Track and Field meeting in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland in 2018 she clocked a time of 12.81 seconds. On the same during the heats, she won in 12.70s. It was however with the benefit of a +2.2m/s tailwind.
ATHLETE PROFILE Rikenette Steenkamp
Full name: Rikenette Steenkamp
Born: 16/10/1992 in Pretoria
Athletics discipline: 100m hurdles (personal best: 12.81 – 2018)
Varsity Athletics history: 2013-15, 2017
Studied: BA Sports Science (2011-14), Masters Sport and Recreation Management (2015-17), Masters Human Movement Science (2018-19)
Article courtesy Wilhelm de Swardt/TuksSport Media