Wesley Botton

By Wesley Botton

Chief sports journalist

SA Athletics Champs: All the highs and lows from day two

Clarence Munyai clocked 20.03 in his 200m semifinal, albeit with a tailwind, in the standout performance of the day.

It was a relatively tame day of competition yesterday, with the weather refusing to play ball, as South Africa’s elite athletes struggled to hit their straps on the second day of competition at the SA Senior Track and Field Championships at Green Point Stadium in Cape Town.

We take a look at some of the highlights, as well as some of the results and decisions that might best be forgotten.

Cold starts

With a cold wind pushing down the mountain and through the stadium, the athletes were cheated by a poor decision from the organisers.

Rather than allowing them to remove their tracksuits at the start, as is the norm in track and field, the athletes were made to strip down to their vests and shorts outside the call room before being ushered to the track.

This made it challenging to stay warm ahead of their events and made them more susceptible to injury, ensuring fast times were few and far between, especially in the sprint events.

Marione Fourie, the nation’s latest 100m hurdles sensation, waited nearly 20 minutes in her racing kit before the starting gun was fired, busting any chance she had of challenging for the SA record which she is on the verge of breaking. She won the final in 13.43 seconds, crossing the line half-a-second outside her personal best.

Munyai stands out

While most athletes struggled in the conditions, Clarence Munyai managed to slam it down in the men’s 200m semifinals shortly before the wind picked up and it began to drizzle.

Though he didn’t have much competition to push him, the SA record holder stormed over the line in 20.03 seconds, albeit with a +2.3m/s tailwind which meant the time would not be recognised.

If it’s a little warmer on Saturday, Munyai could be set to clock the first sub-20 performance in the country this season when he turns out in the final.

Frustrated giant

Kyle Blignaut, one of the most intimidating athletes in the sport in terms of his size, was not satisfied with his result, despite defending his national title without too much hassle.

Even with his massive frame, Blignaut said the unpredictable wind had affected his balance with some of his attempts.

He won convincingly with a 20.09m heave, but the Olympic finalist admitted he needed to find some better form ahead of this year’s major international championships.

“I’m happy to go over 20m again, but I feel like my season just doesn’t want to get going. I wanted to come here and defend my national title, and now I’ll go back to the drawing board with my coach (Pierre Blignaut).”

Surprise results

In the absence of Tshepo Tshite, who is focussing on the 800m event, Ryan Mphahlele was expected to dominate the men’s 1 500m final.

Mphahlele was shown more than one clean pair of heels, however, settling for third place in 3:40.68, with Nkosinathi Sibiya taking the win in 3:39.62.

Similarly, junior prodigy Brian Raats had been expected to crush his senior opposition, but he took the runner-up spot in the men’s high jump.

Mpho Links won easily, sailing over the bar at 2.25m, while Raats cleared 2.16m, proving that experience still counts for something.

Read more on these topics


Access premium news and stories

Access to the top content, vouchers and other member only benefits