Our walkers have made more great strides towards guaranteeing their participation in major upcoming international events, writes Mark Etheridge.
Six of our athletes took part in the recent IAAF Race Walk Cup in Taicang, China and although there were no podium places it was a solid showing by the squad.
The 10km event saw Anel Oosthuizen crack a new SA junior mark of 48min 59sec while Pierre Vermaak’s 45:54 beat the previous youth mark by almost two minutes. Not bad going for the youngster, who only turned 16 recently and was competing against the world’s best Under-20 walkersÔÇª and this just 30 months after nearly being killed by a taxi while out training.
In the 20km events Lebogang Shange [pictured in Europe right] was 61st in 1:24:18 while Wayne Snyman improved his best time to 1:26:03 for 71st place. Also in the 20km event, Cornelia Swart walked a personal best 1:42.19 for 75th spot.
Says Mundell: “Both Lebo and I achieved an IAAF A┬á qualifying time for World Championships in Beijing next year. Anel is in contention to compete at the World Juniors, having secured the qualifying time on several occasions.
“Pierre is in contention for the Olympic Youth Games team as well and Lebo’s 20km is the best ever by a South African at the World Cup. The four senior athletes had previously raced in Europe [at their own cost] in March and April in order to obtain qualifying times that meet the IAAF criteria ÔÇô with a minimum of three international judges, for participation at international meetings.”
He went on to tell Road to Rio 2016: “It was the first time that SA had representation in all the categories and undoubtedly the best all-round race walking squad performance ever.
“It was tremendous value to interact with international athletes and coaches at the team hotels and to learn from Chris and Carl. We are definitely hoping to improve the depth of the race walking fraternity and qualify several athletes for big international meetings in the years to come. Having access to watch all the events on SuperSport is also promoting the growth and depth of elite race walking in South Africa.”