By Mark Etheridge
Shot-putter Burger Lambrechts went closest to a medal for South Africa on the opening day of the IAAF World Youth Championships in Cali, Colombia on Wednesday.
Lambrechts left his best to last as he unleashed a personal best heave of 20.97 to place him fourth on a day of four finals.
His other attempts on the day were a 20.87 and 20.37 as all three medallists bettered the 21m mark. Winner was Amerian Adrian Piperi with 22m on the button and he was followed by Polish athlete Szymon Mazur (21.77) and Sweden’s Wictor Petersson (21.56).
Until yesterday’s Lambrechts’ best was the 20.89 that he threw at African Championships in April.
A team of 25 South African athletes is at the championships being held in the temperate South American city, situated near the equator at an altitude of 1000m and the host city of the World Games in 2013, also attended by South Africa.
The SA team only arrived in Colombia two days before the competition meaning those athletes taking part in the first day or so will be at something of a disadvantage having travelled so far from South Africa and not having sufficient time to acclimatise.
Pretoria’s Lambrechts, 16, is the son of former SA champion Burger Lambrechts Snr, whose 20.63 best at senior level in 2004 is still the second best throw ever by a South African.
In the same final in Cali, fellow South African Patrick Duvenhage threw 19.50 for ninth place.
It was a nerve-wracking night for Lambrechts snr as another one of the athletes he coaches was involved in the women’s discus final! There it was Yolandi Stander who took seventh spot with a season’s best 47.85m as Moldova’s Alexandra Emilanov won with a throw of 52.78m.
In earlier heat action there was ecstasy and agony for Kyle Appel who won his 100m heat in a personal best 10.52 to go through to his semi-final but he was disqualified under IAAF Rule 162.7 for false starting. The Western Cape athlete was part of Team South Africa at last year’s African Youth Championships in Gaborone, Botswana.
‘The shot put final definitely produced some of the best results in this discipline ever seen at a World Youth Championships,’ enthused SA coach Pierre Blignaut.
‘And the weather here is excellent.’
Looking ahead to Thursday’s competition and Blignaut says: ‘The highlight should be the girls’ 100m hurdles where Taylon Bieldt stands a good chance of medalling.’
The women’s 100m hurdles is the final event of day two. Bieldt was also part of Team SA in Botswana last year where she won 100m hurdles gold. The Montana High School (Pretoria) pupil went on to represent SA at the Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China but a hamstring injury forced her out.