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Sixth-time lucky as Van Rensburg finally savours SA title

Van Rensburg

By Mark Etheridge

Third in the 800-metre final at the 2012 SA championships, second the following year… the smart money would have been on Rynardt van Rensburg taking the final step up to the winner’s podium in 2017.

But no! He’s had to settle for second four years in a row before finally grabbing that elusive gold medal in Potchefstroom at the weekend.

He clocked 1min 46.56sec, with Henco Uys and Tshepo Tshite taking silver and bronze respectively.

Among the athletes he beat in Potchefstroom were former champions Jacob Rozani and Andre Olivier.

‘After finishing third in 2012, I never would have imagined  it would take five years to be the South African champion,’ said a visibly relieved Bloemfonteiner.

‘I knew the race was going to be a tough one. There were guys with real talent as well as athletes who have achieved a lot before.

‘ I knew it would come down to the last 100m and the guys running the smartest would probably win.’

Upon first reflection, Van Rensburg, who turned 25 a month before the nationals, wasn’t all that happy with his race plan. ‘I didn’t run a good tactical race and was happy I could still manage the win.’

But a few re-runs of the race video brought a more positive change of opinion. ‘I wanted to be top three in the first 200m and was actually in sixth. I did work my way up well, although I hadn’t wanted to give myself all that work to do. The last bend I had to go past in the second and third lanes, which isn’t exactly ideal.

‘But having watched it again, although it wasn’t ideal from my side, I probably ended up doing a good tactical job in the end.’

Check out Van Rensburg’s race to gold here:

It’s a hugely significant milestone in Van Rensburg’s career. ‘This means a lot to me and my coach [dad, Derek) and it’s a title we badly wanted.’

In the preparation for Potchefstroom there was a slight hiccup in February. ‘I had a slight Achilles tendon problem again, in February, but I wouldn’t go so far as to say it really interrupted my training, as I was only off my feet for a week and it’s 100% now.’

Van Rensburg has had less than a week to savour victory though, as he heads south to this weekend’s SA University Championships in Cape Town. ‘Then I’ll be heading to Europe in June and July. I haven’t raced a lot in South Africa this year because our focus is on the European season.

‘I’ll be doing the 1500m and 4x400m relay in Cape Town and I’d like to run a better 1500m than my current PB of 3.48. I’m happy with my 1:46.6 in the 800m for now, so my next 800m will only be in Europe.’

‘In Europe I’ll race between eight and 10 times and hope to break the 1.45.00 barrier.’

Picture of Van Rensburg about to win the 800m in Potchefstroom courtesy of Roger Sedres/ImageSA


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