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Hurdler Steenkamp winding up for a big one

Steenkamp

Rikenette Steenkamp proved on Saturday that by winning the 100-metre hurdles in a time of 13.04 seconds at a league meeting at Tuks, the question is not whether she is capable of dipping under 13 seconds, but rather how soon she will do so.

And it might just happen on Friday at the Varsity Athletics Meeting at the University of Pretoria.

The Tuks athlete is now officially the second fastest South African female athlete in the 100m-hurdles. Only Corien Botha, who ran 12.94s in 1999 to set a new national record in Salamanca, ran a faster time.

Steenkamp was justifiably relieved to at long last clock a legal time.

She was brilliant in Bloemfontein and Pretoria, running respective times of 13.09s and 13.02, but unfortunately there were doubts whether the timing system worked properly during the ASA Speed Series-meeting in Bloemfontein.

Then, last week during the Gauteng North Championships the following wind was too strong. It was not the only time this season that the  wind has robbed Steenkamp of a fast time. In her first race in Johannesburg she ran 13.14s, but due to the windy conditions her time was also not official.

To quote from the lyrics of the legendary Bob Dylan, the answer as to how fast Steenkamp really is in the 100m-hurdles, was up to this weekend ‘blowin in the wind’.

Not that it is really any easier racing with the wind at your back. Steenkamp said it tends to make things difficult for hurdlers as it pushes them closer to the hurdles, making it difficult to keep stride length.

The Tuks athlete made it clear that she is not obsessed to run a sub-13 second race. It is more important for her to execute her race to perfection.

‘If I do so I know that I will run a fast time, but I must admit it is not as if I am never thinking about dipping under 13 seconds. It is the dream that gets me to keep pushing myself beyond my physical barriers.’

Steenkamp was full of praise for the role her training partner and friend, Claudia Heunis (TuksAthletics), played in helping her to running 13.04s. Heunis set a new personal best time running 13.23s.

‘I could feel Claudia pushing from behind the whole time I race, which was exciting. I truly believe in the principle of success begets success. One has just to look at what has been happening in the men’s 100m in South African athletics to realise it. Last week the rivalry between Akani Simbine and Thando Roto led to it being the first time that two athletes dipped under 10 seconds in the same race.

‘Hopefully my rivalry with Claudia and Maryke Brits is going to lead to something equally as exciting. It’s important to me that we leave a legacy behind. South African athletics has already got a proud recent history in the 400m-hurdles, with Olympian  Llewellyn Herbert and continued by LJ van Zyl and Cornel Fredericks.

‘Our men’s 100m athletes are also starting to leave a legacy behind. It’s high time that our female athletes start doing the same. South African women’s sport is in dire need of role models,’ said the Tuks hurdler.

Picture of Steenkamp in action courtesy of Reg Caldecott


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