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Mokoena and Roto shine at home and abroad

Rio 2016 Olympic athlete Khotso Mokoena was a standout performer at the weekend, as the local and international athletics season continued to gain momentum.

Mokoena, former IAAF World Indoor champion and Olympic silver medallist, won the men’s long jump event with a best effort of 7.99 metres in the final leg of the IAAF World Indoor Tour Series in Birmingham. He secured a comfortable victory, 16 centimetres clear of Bermuda’s Tyrone Smith.

Meanwhile Thando Roto (TuksAthletics) showed he has what it takes to become a member of South Africa’s elite sub 10-second sprint club when he won the 100m in a time of 9.98s at a league meeting at the University of Johannesburg.

Unfortunately for Roto, the wind from behind was far too strong for his time to be officially recognised. The wind speed was recorded at +2.9m/s.

Roto is nevertheless the fifth South African sprinter to dip under 10 seconds. The others are Akani Simbine (9.89), Henricho Bruintjies (9.97), Wayde van Niekerk  (9.98) and Simon Magakwe (9.98).

This wasn’t the first time that Roto has been ‘robbed’ of a good time by the wind. Last year in Salamanca, Spain, he won the 100m in a time of 10.15s, which would have qualified him for the Rio Olympic Games were it not for the fact that the wind from behind was measured at +2.6m/s. Officially his best time is still 10.27.

But Roto isn’t too worried that his first sub-10 effort is not recognised. ‘It was still amazing to finish a race and see that I have managed to dip under 10 seconds. I now know that on any good day I will be able to do so again.’

Wisely, Roto made it clear that he will never allow himself to become obsessed with running sub-10 seconds. ‘Naturally I want to run a sub-10, but I am not one to make predictions as to when and where it is going to happen. I will let my legs do the talking. If you are prepared to put in the hard work you will eventually reap success.’

His next race will be at the Varsity Athletics Meet in Potchefstroom.

Hennie Kriel, who coaches Roto, predicted earlier in the week that Roto was ready to run a sub-10 second race. However he didn’t expect it to happen on Saturday as Roto had a slight niggle.

In another unofficial effort, promising middle-distance runner George Kusche clocked the fastest 1000m time ever run by a junior South African athlete at the third and final leg of the Classic Shootout Series at the University of Johannesburg.

His 2min 19.08sec performance, achieved on the sideline of a schools meeting, could not be considered for record purposes due to standard ratification processes.

Kusche, however, covered the two-and-a-half lap distance more than a second quicker than Clyde Colenso’s national junior record of 2:20.21 set in Sydney 23 years ago, recording an unofficial national junior best.

Junior athlete Simonay Weitsz defended her title in the women’s 1000m race in 2:45.21.


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