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Van Niekerk leads SA 1-2-3 with best time in Slovenia

Wayde

By Mark Etheridge

Is there anything that Wayde van Niekerk can’t do? Apparently not, as he led a South African clean sweep of the men’s 100-metre medals at the EA Classic meeting in Velenje, Slovenia, on Tuesday night.

The Rio Olympics 400m gold medallist and world record holder blasted to a 9.94-second victory on a warm European evening.

He was helped by a handy 0.9m/sec tail wind, well within the permitted 2m/sec reading.

It was a personal best by 0.04sec from the only man on the globe to have dipped under the 10sec, 20sec and 44sec in the 100-200-400m combination.

He was followed home by Pretoria’s Emile Erasmus in 10.12 and Cape Town’s Henricho Bruintjies (10.14).

Van Niekerk told the meeting website: ‘I’m very pleased. It’s my best time and I’m glad the competition ended the way I wanted it to. This also bodes well for my two main distances.’

Was that a hint that he’ll be doubling up over 200/400 at the World Championships in London in August?

The Bloemfontein speedster, who ran to a national 200m record in Jamaica earlier this month, has now moved up be sixth-fastest male on the 100m season’s best list. His 9.94 was also a meeting record.

Van Niekerk was one of a large contingent of South Africans in Slovenian action.

There were also first places for Tamzin Thomas in the women’s 200m, the Western Cape athlete running 23.82 to beat the host nation’s Tami Scancar into second spot (24.29), and for Pretoria’s Rikenette Steenkamp in the 100m hurdles.

Olympian Alyssa Conley was making her European season debut in the same event, but was disqualified.

Steenkamp continued to show some good form as she won in 13.03 from Hungary’s Greta Kerekes (13.47sec). ’It was lovely and warm tonight,’ said Steenkamp. ‘I really wanted to go sub-13 tonight because conditions were so good. But we’re getting closer so I’m more than happy.’

She sure is getting there. Her time was just 0.01sec outside the personal best she ran at national champs in Potchefstroom in April.

In other track events, there was a third and fourth spot for Jovan van Vuuren (7.41m) and Dylan Cotter (7.38) in the long jump, won by Cuba’s Maykel Mass with a 7.91m on the night.

And in the women’s long jump, Olympian Lynique Prinsloo leapt 6.25m with her first jump of the night. That secured her fourth spot behind Sweden’s Kaize Karlen, who won with 6.37m.

Back on the track, and former national 800m champion and Rio Olympian Jacob Rozani was third in the two-lapper with a time of 1:46.33 behind Bosnia’s Amel Tuka (1:45.34), with Dumisani Hlaselo’s 1:52.67 18th quickest on the night.

Meanwhile, SA 800m champion and Rio Olympian Rynardt van Rensburg (pictured above) was in action at the Copenhagen Athletics Games on Tuesday night. He won the 800m in 1:48.5sec.

‘The weather was really bad,’ said Van Rensburg who ran a personal best time at the Velenje meeting last year. ‘Conditions were very cold and windy and my race turned out to be 30 minutes late.

‘But it still went well. The race was tactical and I managed to win in a slow 1:48.51. I needed to win this one, so I just did the job. Now I’m back to Furth in Germany for some more training.’

Van Rensburg’s fellow South African, Henco Uys, was third in the same race with a time of 1:49.53.

Also in Copenhagen, 400m hurdler Le Roux Hamman was fifth-fastest with a time of 51.15, with Potchefstroom University’s Johannes Maritz fourth-best on the evening with a 50.73. Denmark’s Jaak-Heinrich Jagor was quickest with a 50.16.

‘Conditions were really bad, cold and terrible wind,’ said Hamman, ‘and for hurdles the last thing we need is a wind.’

‘You can see conditions were bad by the slowness of the winning time. My next race will now be 2 July in La Chaux de Fonds, Switzerland.’

Promising Thapelo Pora was scheduled to run the 400m, but wisely opted not to start after a tender hamstring.


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