Simon Magakwe took his first steps towards the London Olympics when he headed a useful field in the second heat of the 200m sprint at the second Yellow Pages Series meeting held in Potchefstroom on Saturday (24 March)

Running with home ground support, the 26 year old was clocked at 20.43 seconds into a 0.5 metre per second wind with Thuso Mpuang in his wake at 20.58, just failing to meet the required 20.55 A standard.

However, the Free State athlete make no mistake in the final where he sliced his time to 20.50 and pulled Lebogang Moeng, who had been second to Roscoe Engel in the first heat, through to third place in a qualifying 20.51. Magakwe proved his early morning performance was no fluke by improving his time to 20.38 seconds, this time into a 1.3 m/s head wind.

In windless conditions Tsholofelo Thipe reduced her 200m sprint best to an A qualification of 22.89 seconds, pulling Justine Palframan through to a PB and world Junior qualifying performance of 23.22.

18-year-old Palframan is now realizing the return for her recent Caribbean trip where she spent a couple of weeks training with the Jamaican sprint squad. With over three months remaining there is every chance that the junior from Kwazulu Natal can carve the required 0.12 seconds off her time to stake a claim for a berth at London.

Namibian Tjipekapora was third in 23.55 seconds.

Irvette van Blerk’s dream of sharing an Olympic experience with fiancé and World silver medalist L.J.van Zyl moved closer to reality when she set a personal best of 9 minutes 27,54 seconds for victory in the 3000m ahead of Namibian Lavinia Haitope who was fully 50 metres adrift at the line.

Van Blerk is set to line up in the Virgin London marathon in April with an eye on a sub 2hour 37 minutes. The Nedbank athlete attempted to make a debut at last November’s Soweto marathon, but fell at the start rendering her unable to complete the distance on the day.

Rene Kalmer, who is the fastest of the current women with a 2 hour 29 minute marathon, has secured a London place and is expected to be joined by Tanith Maxwell whose best of 2:32 was run prior to the commencement of the qualifying period set by Athletics South Africa. Maxwell will run in Rotterdam next month and on paper should secure one of the three spots.

Patience Ntshingila provided the best South African performance of the field events setting a new national record in the triple jump where she landed 13.89 metres into the pit adding 43 centimetres to the previous record set by Charmain Barnard in April 1992. Amazingly after two decades second placed Chalene Potgieter also broke the old record (13.46m) with her hop, skip and jump of 13.77 metres.

The Czech javelin squad dominated both the men and women’s event with Vitezslav Vesely’s 81.72 metres winning the men’s event ahead of countryman Jakub Vadlejeh (80.40) and a last round spear to 60.96 metres from Jarmila Klimesova relegating Sunette Viljoen (59.30m) to second spot in the women’s event ahead of Irena Sediva (54.61m).

Vesely, who was fourth in Daegu World Championships, and Vadlejeh were well off their personal bests of 86.45m and 84.44m respectively, and 28 centimetre short of the qualification for London. The duo who are accompanied by former world and Olympic Champion Jan Zelezny, are two of many international athletes who use Potchefstroom for their high altitude winter training camp.

With Oscar Pistorius having already recorded the first of two IAAF A grade qualifications required by South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC), three other athletes from South Africa’s 4 x 400m World Silver medal squad competed in the 400m flat.

Wille de Beer proved the sharpest in 45.81, ahead of Shane Victor, with hurdle specialist LJ van Zyl languishing in fourth in 46.50 behind Ruan Greyling.

“If I can run a good 400m then my hurdles will also go well,” said the World 400 hurdles bronze medalist and SA record holder prior to the race.  Van Zyl used Potchefstroom as a season’s ice breaker,  and intends to qualify at his home track.  “I will try and qualify in Pretoria, at the same track where I broke the SA Record last year.”

Rorisang Rammonye was in a class of her own in the 400m where she secured the top step of the podium in 51.61 seconds. Although shaving 0.37 seconds from her time in the Yellow Pages Series in Stellenbosch, Rammonye missed the A standard mark by 0.06 seconds. Sonja van der Merwe was over two seconds adrift with Botswana’s Lydia Mashila third in a slow 54.46 seconds.

2009 world champion Mbulaeni Mulaudzi had a useful return to the track in the 800 metres where he was over half a second ahead of Thapelo Madiba when he broke the beam in one minute 46,41 seconds.

Although a good bit off the required 1:45,60, the University of Johannesburg athlete has cause to be content with his performance given this was the race back since injury prevented him from competing in Daegu last year.

In 2011 Mulaudzi, the 2004 Olympic silver medalist was only able to compete four times with a season’s best of 1:45.50 set in Rome.

Other athletes delivering useful performances included Caster Semenya who put together her first serious 800m of the season in 2:03.60, and Wenda Theron who eased under the B qualifier in the 400m hurdles, but was a full second from her required A qualification.

Theron will also want to stake a claim for the 4 x 400m relay, where she can expect to combine with Thipe, Palframan, Rammonye, and Semenya who has a powerful 52.54 seconds for the one lapper.


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