Lindsay Hanekom, the current South African Students 400-metre hurdles champion, can boast that for the moment he has something in common with James Bond, the fictional British Secret Service agent.
But while for Bond, ‘007’ is a badge of honour, for Hanekom (Tuks/HPC) it means a barrier of frustration.
At the Student Championships in Polokwane last weekend, Hanekom came oh so close to qualifying for the Olympic Games. His winning time of 49.47 seconds is just 0.07sec (007) slower than the qualifying Olympic A-standard. The fact that Hanekom had to run two races within six hours and still managed to come so close to qualifying for Rio proves that he is in good form.
If nothing goes wrong and the weather plays along, he ought to run a time fast enough to qualify for the Olympics in the 400m-hurdles in Bloemfontein, either Friday or on Saturday, when he will compete at the South African Open Athletics Championships.
‘I’ve spoken to my coach, Nico van Heerden, and we decided that I shouldn’t wait until the final to qualify. If I feel good in the heats, I will go flat out to run 49.40. If I don’t succeed the first time, I will at least have a second opportunity on Saturday.’
The Tuks/HPC athlete makes no secret about what it will mean to him to qualify for the Olympic Games. ‘I can honestly say that should I qualify I will without doubt be the happiest athlete in South Africa. It’s always been my dream to compete at the Olympics. People keep telling me I have to be patient because it is all about a four-year cycle and 2020 will be my year. But now I’m so close to fulfilling my dream.’
Interesting to note is that Hanekom has improved his time for the 400m hurdles by more than 10 seconds over the past four years. In his first ever 400m hurdles race he was timed at 63 seconds. Last year his personal best was 50.0 and now it’s 49.47.
Nico van Heerden, his coach, is confident that Hanekom is capable of qualifying for the Olympic Games in Rio.
‘Lindsay’s injury woes are, at long last, something of the past and he was able to do quality work during his training sessions lately. I think the long serious talk we had after the South African Championships in Stellenbosch also helped. As coach I’m impressed by his hunger to succeed.’
After Bloemfontein Hanekom’s next race will be in Dakar (25 May), 4 June (Bratislava, Slovakia), 14 June (Luzern, Switzerland) and 13 July (Lignano, Italy).
Picture of Hanekom in recent action, courtesy of Reg Caldecott