By Mark Etheridge
Cape Town’s Antonio Alkana’s IAAF World Indoor Championships ended in frustration in Portland, Oregon on Sunday but there was the satisfaction of a joint national indoor long jump record for South African teammate Ruswahl Samaai.
Alkana had initially done enough to qualify for his final of the 60m hurdles event with a 7.76sec fourth spot in the heats.
But officials later had to compare Alkana’s time with Brazilian Fabio dos Santos who recorded the same time and comparison of their times to 1000th of a second gave the latter the nod.
Samaai was the final South African in action at the four-day championships and an 8.14 metre effort with his first attempt saw him head the 14-strong field.
His next effort was even more encouraging as he hit the sand at 8.18m. But both America’s Jeff Henderson and Marquis Dendy went past him with jumps of 8.19 and 8.26m. Samaai’s third attempt was an 8.03 and he had no-jumps on his last two attempts.
That meant that Samaai ended fifth as Dendy went on to take gold in 8.26m.
But Samaai was far from disappointed at missing out on the podium and lapped up the experience.
He told Road to Rio 2016: ‘The competition was good, very competitive which I liked. As I’ve told you before I live for competition.
It wasn’t the result we as a nation wanted but I give it my all from the get go.
’I really felt good heading into the competition. I had a little bit of nerves but told myself this is where I belong so I don’t have any reason to be nervous. I really enjoyed the competition though, a great indoor experience for me and I’m happy with the results and of course to equal Khotso Mokoena’s national record.’
Mokoena’s 8.18m was jumped in France nine years ago.
Elaborating more on the champs, Samaai said: ‘The crowd actually wasn’t as great as I’d thought and the long jump runway is very different to outdoors, harder than usual.’
‘Coming into the championship I never aimed for anything specific until my first jump. I just wanted to go out there and give it my best as usual.
‘After my first jump I realised that I may get a medal so I just tried to keep my form and continued on trying to improve my distances.’
Meanwhile, closer to home, many of South Africa’s top athletes will be action at the second leg of the ASA Nite Series meeting at Green Point Stadium in Cape Town.
It will be a battle against time when the second leg of the Athletics South Africa Night Series go down to the wire on Tuesday evening in Cape Town where sprinters and middle-distance runners will be targeting world-class performances.
While new SA 100m record holder Akani Simbine and Wayde van Niekerk will sit this one out, there’s still more than enough to keep Cape Town track and fields happy.
The man who previously held the joint 100m record with Simbine, Henricho Bruintjies, will be burning to show that he’s very much still in the mix after an encouraging indoor season in Europe.
He’ll take on rising star and Commonwealth Youth Games medallist Gift Leotlela and World Championships 400m finalist, Isaac Makwala of Botswana.
And rising women’s sprinter, Alyssa Conley is also in action after the Morné Nagel-coached athlete posted more than one Olympic qualifying time in the 100 and 200m.
Middle distance athletes will also look to suck up the oxygen rich atmosphere of Green Point with SA 10km road champion Elroy Gelant and 2013 World Championships 1500m bronze medallist Johan Cronje both running the 5000m.
And 2012 Olympic 800m silver medallist Caster Semenya lines up for her first two-lapper of the season after already showing some fine early season form with a personal best 51.47sec in the 400m.
World Student Games 800m bronze medallist Rynardt van Rensburg of Free State will be looking to get his season off with a bang while SA record holder LJ van Zyl spearheads the men’s 400m hurdles line-up.
In the women’s hurdles, 2014 Youth Olympic Games gold medallist Gezelle Magerman will be looking to build on her own personal best of 54.72sec in Pretoria.
Field events feature African Games discus champion Russel Tucker and World Championships finalist Victor Hogan.