UP’s junior and senior track and field stars have kept busy during this past winter break, pulling off a string of impressive performances both locally and internationally.
The university’s junior athletes formed part of the SA team that competed at the IAAF World U/18 Athletics Championships in July. From 12 to 16 July, the Moi International Sports centre in Nairobi, Kenya played host to the championships, marking the first time the event has been held on the continent.
Day one of the competition saw TuksSport High school Sprinter Tshenolo Lemao take Gold in the boys’ 100m final. Lemao’s winning time of 10.57 seconds saw him become the first South African athlete ever to win a 100m world title. Compatriot, Retshidisitswe Mlenga, finished a close second in a time of 10.61 seconds to secure a historic one-two finish for team SA. The duo would go in to secure an equally impressive one-two finish in the 200m event, with Mlenga taking first place honours and Lemao coming in second. Fellow TuksSport High School athlete Zazini Sokwakhana seemed to draw inspiration from the Mlenga and Lemao’s performances as he too raced to victory in the boys 400m hurdles final in 49.27 seconds.
Team SA’s gold medal haul would be added to by another hurdler as Zeney van der Walt stormed to victory in the girls’ 400m hurdles final. Not to be outdone by the track athletes, high jumper Breyton Poole cleared 2.24 metres in the boys’ final to register Team SA’s fourth gold of the championships. The team continued to move up the medals table with javelin athlete Johannes Schlebusch winning silver in the boys’ final, recording a personal best throw of 75.68 metres. As the games drew to a close, two further medals were added to the Team SA collection as field athletes Jonathan de Lacey and Morné Brandon both won bronze medals in the men’s shot put and discus finals respectively.
Elsewhere around the globe, Tuks hurdler Rikenette Steenkamp took part in the Gothenburg Athletics Grand Prix on 11 July. Looking to build on her impressive sub-13 second run in Ostrava (Czech Republic), in June, Steenkamp overcame both the tough competition (the field included former junior world champion Isabelle Pedersen) and a strong headwind to claim her 4th victory in five meetings. “For me it was important to go out and have a solid performance and that’s exactly what I did. I’m quite happy with the win,” Steenkamp said when reflecting on the race. As the international athletics season nears its climax with the upcoming Senior World Championships and World Student Games, Tuks Athletics continues to show its depth in quality at both junior and senior levels.
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