Wesley Botton

By Wesley Botton

Chief sports journalist

Geldenhuys and Joseph qualify for Paris Olympics

Youth athlete Tumi Ramokgopa was also spectacular, setting a new SA U-18 record.

Zeney Geldenhuys and Rogail Joseph produced an explosive battle on Friday, with both athletes qualifying for this year’s Olympic Games on day two of the SA Athletics Championships in Pietermaritzburg.

Geldenhuys, a former world champion in the youth and junior age groups, won gold in the women’s 400m hurdles final in 54.72, with Joseph, who won the African Games in Ghana last month, pushing her all the way to the line.

Joseph clocked 54.84, just 0.01 inside the automatic Olympic qualifying standard of 54.85.

Record for Ramokgopa

In third place, 16-year-old Tumi Ramokgopa was also spectacular, setting a new SA U-18 record of 57.04.

“It’s very exciting to know there are girls pushing me because without them it’s difficult to run great times,” said Geldenhuys.

“I’m ecstatic and I feel truly blessed to run the Olympic qualifier. It takes some pressure off because now I know I have the automatic qualifying time.”

Chasing faster times

Geldenhuys admitted, however, that she needed to slice a chunk off her personal best of 54.47 if she hoped to make it through to the Olympic final in Paris in August.

“From here it’s much harder work to get the times down because if I want to make the final I need to run 53. But I definitely feel it’s within reach.”

In the men’s 400m hurdles final on Friday, Lindukhule Gora stunned the rest of the field to win gold in 49.45.

Sabelo Dhlamini was edged into second place (49.48) and Njabulo Mbatha finished third in 49.57.

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