Road to Rio
UP-Tuks HPC 400lm hurdles athlete, Wenda Nel, secured her spot on the South African Olympic team on 15 April this year when she impressed at the South African Senior Championships in Stellenbosch. This was Nel’s first competitive 400 m hurdles event of the season and she finished in a record time of 54.85ls, which was well within the Olympic qualifying time of 56.20 s. The 27-year old hurdler competed in the 100 m and 200 m events as a Junior Championship athlete, but has since established herself as a 400 m hurdles specialist.
Nel was competing both locally and internationally in the prelude to the Olympics. She faced some challenges at. IAAF Diamond League Series in Rabat in May, but she managed a third place finish after losing some momentum in the final stretch with a time of 54.88 s. Nel was back in action at the Rome Diamond League in June when she scooped a silver medal with a time of 54.61 s in the women’s 400 m hurdles. A return to African soil saw Nel continue her winning momentum at the World Challenge event in Morocco to finish in a time of 55.36 s.
Latest personal bests and goals
Nel is a multiple African Championship gold medallist and is credited with a personal best time of 54.37 s that she set in 2015 at the IAAF World Championships in Beijing. “I hope for a sub-53. It’s in the plan and it’s the kind of time you need for a podium at the Olympics,” said Nel. On Friday 22 July Nel switched into high gear at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in London. Nel ran 54.47 s in the 400 m hurdles just three weeks away from the Olympics. This time was just a meagre 0.10 s slower than her personal best.
Nel will be sprinting in the 400 m heats on Monday 15 August with the semi-finals scheduled to take place on 16 August and the final on 18 August.
Photo: Wenda Nel’s Facebook page