Rikenette Steenkamp (Tuks) set a new South African record on Sunday as she won the 100m hurdles in 12.81 seconds at the Resisprint International Meeting in Switzerland.
She was faster in the heats, running 12.70s, but unfortunately, the wind from behind was 2.2metres per second which means her time won’t be recognised officially.
Earlier this month in Prague, she ran 12.91 to improve on the 20-year-old record set by Corien Botha.
Steenkamp could be forgiven if she’s slightly upset about the wind as during last year’s meeting she ran 12.92, which would have been a national record at the time but the wind prevented her from celebrating.
Steenkamp was, however, far from despondent after her performance in Sunday morning’s heats.
‘I’ll be honest, I did surprise myself. I thought I could run 12.90 but my time was so much faster. It excited me, as I realised that a time of 12.80 could be on the cards in the final.
‘In the three hours leading up to the final, I was quite hyper but also highly motivated,’ said the Tuks athlete.
‘Coach [Hennie Kriel] helped me to stay focused and not allow myself to get carried away. His advice was that I should concentrate on doing the basics right. If I do, it will be a fast time again. I did so.
‘My start was not too bad, but somehow I lost my rhythm, that led to the athlete on my inside starting to catch up with me. I had to reprimand myself telling myself: “Riki you are careless”. I again accelerated; actually, I was surprised at how easy it felt doing so.
‘It proved to me that the hard work I have been doing is starting to pay dividends. It is exciting to know I am race-fit,’ said the Tuks athlete, who is returning home for 10 days on Monday.
Her next race will be during the World Cup.
It’s all speculation, but it is still interesting to note that Steenkamp’s time of 12.81 seconds would have been good enough for a bronze medal at the Commonwealth Games and she would have qualified for last year’s final at the World Championships in London.
‘At the moment, it feels to me like the sky is the limit,’ said an elated Steenkamp.
Emile Erasmus (Tuks) nearly made history on Sunday, winning the 100m in 10.02sec. In the heats, he clocked 10.01.
In the history of South African athletics, only Akani Simbine (9.89), Wayde van Niekerk (9.94), Thando Roto (9.95), and Henricho Bruintjies (9.97) have run faster times.