Officially the South African Open and South African Students 400-hurdles champion, Lindsay Hanekom, has accomplished all his goals for the moment. Unofficially, however, he hopes to qualify for the final at the Olympic Games in Rio.
‘My goals for the season were to improve my best time of 50.00 to 49.11 seconds and to qualify for the Olympic Games. I’ve achieved both and can now just run to enjoy myself,’ said the Tuks/HPC athlete, who will start his international campaign at the IAAF World Challenge Meeting in Dakar, Senegal on Wednesday.
Hanekom achieved both his goals in the semi-finals of the South African Championships. He won his heat in 49.03 and, with the Olympic qualifying standard 49.40, he qualified as well.
But he is not totally honest if he says he has no more goals. He has his mind set on qualifying for the final in Rio. The ultimate for him would be if he and Cornel Fredericks could both qualify.
‘Cornel is my role model. If I can achieve just some of the things he has achieved as an athlete I will be really happy. The most important thing I have learned from Cornel is to stay modest. Any athlete is only as good as his last race.’
If both Hanekom and Fredericks should qualify for the Olympic final a ‘full-on war’, although only lasting about 49 seconds maximum, can be expected. No mercy will be given or expected.
‘I’m going to race to beat Cornel and he will definitely do his utmost to beat me.’
Fredericks (Tuks/HPC), whose international campaign will probably begin on Saturday at a small meeting in Belgium, said one of the reasons why South Africa has such a proud history in the 400m-hurdles is because the best athletes don’t shy away from racing each other.
‘We all love a good challenge and because of our hunger to succeed we keep on pushing each other to perform at his best. I admire Lindsay for what he has achieved so far this season, especially considering that he had to overcome quite a few small setbacks to do so.’
South Africa’s shotput champion, Orazio Cremona (Tuks/HPC), will also be competing in Dakar.
‘My focus will be on making sure that my technique is 100% correct. If I manage to do that, the big distance will happen,’ said Cremona who needs to throw a distance of 20.50m to qualify for the Games.
Picture of Hanekom courtesy of Reg Caldecott