Slow-starting Steenkamp slices through 13sec barrier in Europe | TeamSA - TeamSA
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Slow-starting Steenkamp slices through 13sec barrier in Europe

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By Mark Etheridge

While Wayde van Niekerk and Clarence Munyai were rocking the world with senior and junior marks respectively, Rikenette Steenkamp was making sure South Africa’s women also made their mark at the Golden Spike meeting on Wednesday.

Steenkamp is a prodigious hurdling talent, with national 100m hurdles titles across all age groups, and on Wednesday night she broke new ground with her first sub-13-sec time.

In a field packed with stars, she blitzed to a 12.99sec second spot behind Germany’s Pamela Dutkiewicz (12.72).

Two factors made the Tuks speedster’s performance all the more remarkable – she only started training again last September after having an operation to remove a surplus bone in her ankle, and she also had one of the most sluggish starts she’s ever likely to experience.

Before the race five of her opponents had gone under the 13-sec barrier… 12.99sec later and it was six!

Small in stature compared to most of her opponents on Wednesday night, she was left trailing with the slowest reaction time in the field, 0.218sec compared to the winner’s 0.164.

But she dug deep and was positively flying at the finish and will take heart in the knowledge that a quicker start will see her overtaking Corien Botha’s 19-year-old record of 12.94sec set in Salamanca, Spain, a city boosting the benefit to sprinters of being at an altitude of around 800m.

‘What a confidence-booster,’ said Steenkamp from Ostrava. ‘It was great running against such a quality field. I only find out I had a spot in the field two days ago and yes, there were lots of butterflies.

‘But what an awesome experience. I’ve waited a long time for this sub-13, but at last I’ve got it and it’s an enormous psychological breakthrough.

‘A strong field was exactly what I needed, I thrive off strong competition. That’s why I made plans to get here.’

She also went into the race with a stronger mindset. ‘I decided to take the viewpoint that I’m not here to just fill a lane, but to really “go for it” and be competitive.’

And she’s already got something work on in the next days and weeks. ‘My race was far from perfect and I see that as a positive. I fought to the very end, that’s what gave me the breakthrough. Keeping my composure after that bad start was very good for me.’

Her next race is just three days away, in Le Chaux de Fond, Switzerland.

 


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