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Bruintjies flies to season-best 10.06 in Finland

Bruintjies

By Mark Etheridge

Led by Henricho Bruintjies, South Africa’s eight athletes accounted for five podium places in Tuesday night’s World Challenge track and field meeting in Turku, Finland.

There were no wins for the SA contingent, with the highest finish coming from Rio Olympics sprinter Henricho Bruintjies in the 100-metre dash.

Bruintjies has been battling somewhat for early season form, but will be encouraged by a season’s best 10.06-sec second spot in chilly conditions not really suitable for sprint events.

The Western Cape athlete had won his heat in 10.16, along with fellow SA athlete Emile Erasmus (10.21).

That saw both into the final, which was won by Turkey’s Ramil Guliyevi in 10.02. Erasmus took third in 10.13.

‘I felt it was a good race,’ said Pretoria’s Erasmus. ‘I think I could have gone under 10.10 if only I could have held my form over the last 20m. My start also wasn’t great, but I had a good drive phase.

‘In the end I’m certainly not unhappy with my time, but there’s going to be hard work going forward.’

Erasmus’ next race is in Herouville, France, on Thursday.

There were third places for Le Roux Hamman, Sunette Viljoen and Antonio Alkana in the 400m hurdles, javelin and 110m hurdles respectively, Khotso Mokoena took fourth in the long jump and Pieter Conradie and Claudia Heunis were fifth and sixth respectively in the 400m final and 100m hurdles heat.

Hamman clocked 50.38sec as Britain’s Jack Green won in 49.78.

Said Pretoria’s Hamman: ‘Well, this was my first European race of the year and it was a hard one. Us South Africans aren’t used to racing in these cold conditions. It was around 11-12 degrees Celsius.

‘There was a really strong headwind in the back straight. As for the race, it was still great. Everything was going well for me until the last 100m, just when I wanted to accelerate.

‘But there was nothing left in the tank and I just couldn’t get the nice strong ending that’s normally there.

‘I guess it’s just one of those days. My next race is Tuesday in Copenhagen, Denmark, and I’m sure I’ll be nice and fresh there, and hopefully the weather conditions will be a bit better.’

Alkana, who recently ran an SA record 13.11 in Czech Republic, was third on Tuesday, with a 13.35sec finish behind France’s Garfield Darien (13.22).

‘Yes, I’m happy with my performance in these cold conditions. In the final I knocked a hurdle hard. So I didn’t have a clean race, but still happy with the final outcome.’

In the heats (3hr 30min before the final) the Capetonian had clocked 13.38.

‘The legs are tired, but I still managed to run my second and third fastest times of the season. Looking forward to my next races.’

That next race will be Sunday’s Diamond League meeting in Stockholm, Sweden.

Viljoen’s best effort of the night was a 61.54 as Belarussian athlete Tatsiana Khaladovich won with a 65.03m throw.

‘I’m leaving a cold Finland with a first and third place – 62.18 and 61.54,’ said Viljoen. ‘Very excited for the rest of the season. Next stop is the Lausanne Diamond League on 6 July.’

Meanwhile Mokoena’s best long jump of the night was a 7.66m leap as Ukraine’s Serhiy Nykyforov won in 7.73.

In the men’s one-lapper, Pieter Conradie got fifth in 46.71sec as Britain’s Rabah Yousif won in 45.81.

The only other SA woman in action, Heunis, took sixth in her hurdles heat with a 13.53, as she missed out on the final.

The final was won by Ukraine’s Hanna Plotitsyna in 13.08.

‘I just didn’t have a nice race,’ was Heunis’ frank appraisal of her evening. ‘Conditions were the coldest when I had to run. It was raining and only 11 degrees at the time.’


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