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Speedster Steenkamp has sights on Commonwealth

By Mark Etheridge

A champion in the 100-metre hurdles at all levels from youth, through junior to the senior ranks, 21-year-old Rikenette Steenkamp has finally come of age this year.

The Pretoria hurdler had a rough patch a few years back as she took what seemed an eternity to get over a troublesome hamstring injury.

But she put all of that behind her at the recent national track and field championships in her home town of Pretoria to smash her personal best of 13.48sec with an incredible run of 13.17.

It’s the sixth best time by a South African and now her and coach Shaun Bownes (himself a multiple 110m hurdles champion), will have their sights set on Corien Botha’s 12.93 national best.

Tuks student Steenkamp took time out to share with Road to Rio 2016 how she got on track again.

“Last year was just an ice-breaking year for me after my injury and also being coachless at the beginning of the year. I had no expectations at all lat year and started with a 14.49 which was not good at all!

“So after my second race I started training with Shaun and when I suddenly ran an unexpected 13.48 I was very hopeful for a good 2014.”

She put in a good base foundation after the 2013 season and also decided to stay at home and miss out on the overseas competition circuit.

“Last year I used to drive through to Potchefstroom and stay there for four nights a week and then spend the other three nights back here in Pretoria while I was studying. It was very difficult for me but worth the effort. I built up slowly but my target time was 13.2.”

And Steenkamp and Bownes could see the effort was paying off. “I saw the last three weeks at training that my times were looking good and I was feeling good. Shaun was also coming through to Pretoria more often which helped a lot and I’m also working with Irma Reynecke on my programme here in Pretoria.

“I’m just so thankful and give all honour to the Lord for my SA titel and my lovely time of 13.17.”

What’s next for the Pretoria express? “Well this year my European season is important to me and then hopefully I can also run good times at African Championships and then Commonwealth Games in Scotland.”