More South African athletes headed for Tokyo have turned up the tempo as the countdown continues to the Olympics.
At the Hengelo FBK Games international meeting, Dominique Scott ensured she qualified for the 10 000m – having previously earned a 5 000m spot – when she sliced more than 20 seconds of her PB in clocking 31min.19.89sec, finishing sixth behind Sifan Hassan of the Netherlands.
— DOM • SCOTT EFURD (@domscottrunSA) June 7, 2021
Also impressing in Hengelo was South African 400m hurdles champion, Wenda Nel, when she ran 55.25sec, finishing third.
The Tuks athlete’s time is again faster than the Olympic qualifying standard. Femke Bol (Netherlands) won in 54.33, with Anna Ryzhykova (Ukraine) second in 54.59.
Nel admits to having a slight case of the jitters before she raced.
‘It was the first time since 2019 that I raced internationally. I was not sure what to expect. In the past, every time I raced in Europe, my first race tended to be a ‘touch and go affair’. It feels to me as if it is the start of a new season. What happened in South Africa does not count for anything.
‘Overall, I am satisfied with my performance. I executed my stride pattern to perfection. I purposely started off conservatively. My granddad always advises me to keep something left in the ‘tank’ for when it matters. It was sound advice. We raced against a headwind in the back straight, so I made sure to conserve my energy. The last 100 metres was hard, but I had enough left in my legs for one final surge.
Nel’s next race is on Thursday when she competes in the Diamond League Meeting in Florence.
According to the Tuks athlete, she will have to be at her best. Three of her rivals already dipped under 55 seconds this season. Ryzhykova and Sara Petersen (Denmark) are former Olympic medallists, while the 21-year-old Bol is a former European junior champion. Nel’s best time for the season is 55.16s.
‘If I can execute my race to perfection and have enough left to attack the last hurdle, I could come close to running a sub-55s race. But for now, it is more important to be consistent.
Akani Simbine (100 metres) and Zakhiti Nene (400 metres) are the other two South Africans who will compete in Florence.
Tuks’ Gift Leotlela will be racing the 100 metres on Wednesday in Marseille. Last week in France in his first European race, he finished third in a time of 10.19s. Arthur Cisse (Ivory Coast) won in 10.11.
Leotlela said he was slightly caught off guard.
‘The gun went off. The next thing, we were crossing the finish line. It was so quick. Immediately afterwards, I asked myself what just happened.
‘I was slightly slow out of the blocks while Cisse was not. It meant I ended up chasing him. It did not help that my legs were not responding when I tried to catch up. But what happened, happened. I have taken some positives from my performance. I know now what I need to work on to be faster.’