Four-time Paralympic athletics champion Oscar Pistorius took a giant step closer to the 2012 Olympic Games in London when he won the 400 metres at the Gauteng North track and field championships in Pretoria.
The man known fondly as the Blade Runner clocked 45.61 seconds which is 0.09 seconds inside the B-qualifying standard of 45.70 for the senior World Championship in Daegu, South Korea later this year.
Making the winning time all the more impressive is that it’s the second fastest by a South African athlete over the last four years. Ofentse Mogawane ran 45.51sec last year.
Ampie Louw, Pistorius’s coach, said he was not surprised by the time. ÔÇ£Our whole training programme has structured to insure that Oscar will be at his best by the end of May when he will be competing in Europe.ÔÇØ Pistorius leaves for Europe on May 23 and will be out of the country until the end of September.
Pistorius’ previous best time for the 400m was 46.02sec. Runner-up on Wednesday was Willie de Beer in 46.12 with young Jacques de Swardt third in 46.55.
Commenting on his Twitter feed after the race, Pistorius said: “One of the best nights of my life. Ran a 45.61sec 400m!! Olympic qualifying time and fastest time in SA! BOYA!!! God is Good! Thanks to everyone who has supported and believed in me in my Quest to 2012 London Olympics! 1step closer! I’m hungry for it!!
The evening’s other big highlight was Charlene Potgieter who won the women’s triple jump with a jump of 13.15 metres. Charmain Barnard (13.46m ÔÇô 1992) and Patience Ntshingila (13.31m ÔÇô 2009) are the only South Africans who can boast better distances.
According to Eppie Fourie, an official, Potgieter nearly broke the SA record but unfortunately she overstepped by a mere eight milimetres. ÔÇ£I still measured the jump. It was 13.56 metres,” said Fourie.
A triple national hurdles champion in 2010, Pretoria’s Rikenette Steenkamp won the 100-hurdles in a time of 13.62 seconds, a time just 0.01sec slower than her personal best time.
Lehann Fourie easily won the 110m hurdles in a time of 13.71 while Estie Wittstock won the women’s 400 metres in 52.68m.
Mpho Maputha broke the Gauteng-North junior record in the long jump with his effort of 7.83 metres.