Sprinters and hurdlers stole the show, with the national men’s 4×100-metre relay team producing the standout performance of the evening, as the inaugural ASA Speed Series came to a close with the fourth and final meeting in Germiston on Wednesday evening.
With Henricho Bruintjies launching himself out the blocks, teenage prodigies Gift Leotlela and Clarence Munyai delivering smooth handovers and SA 100m record holder Akani Simbine storming down the home straight, the young quartet completed the race in 38.47 seconds (see main picture).
The performance, 0.12 outside the national mark, was joint second on the all-time SA rankings in the event.
With the IAAF World Relays in Bahamas next month and the IAAF World Championships in London in August, 2017 is a big season for the nation’s top sprinters, and Athletics SA has prepared relay training camps in the build-up.
Bruintjies, the former SA 100m record holder, who formed part of the quartet who set the current relay mark at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow nearly three years ago, felt they were on the right track to deliver as a team this season, provided they continued to receive the required support.
‘This is only the start of it, so I’m excited because there are young guys coming in, and a few experienced guys,’ Bruintjies said. ‘I feel if we can put a team together and get some good practice sessions we can really do well.’
Earlier, in individual events, national 200m record holder Anaso Jobodwana and double SA sprint champion Alyssa Conley, picked up expected victories in the men’s and women’s 100m races, though neither had it all their own way.
Jobodwana was made to work hard in the second half, before tearing clear of the rest of the field in the latter stages of the race to beat Le Roux van Tonder by 0.15sc (see above). After winning the race in 10.36, he admitted he still needed to work on his start after a lengthy injury lay-off which derailed his 2016 campaign.
‘My intensity and my rhythm is the big thing,’ Jobodwana said. ‘When I get up into my running it feels so smooth, but I need that acceleration. I’ve been getting it right at training but when I get to a race it’s still not clicking, so I have to go back and fix it.’
Conley also had to push all the way to the line, edging out junior speedster Tamzin Thomas by 0.06 as she charged to victory in the women’s 100m event in a time of 11.5.
The Rio Olympian cut a frustrated figure. ‘I was so ready for this race for the entire day and then I think I ate something that may have been off as my body just shut down at about 4pm!
‘Otherwise training is going well and I’m healthy. On track we worked a lot on speed endurance and starting to work on my speed and race fitness now so I’ll be on the track more often and racing.
‘Coach Morné [Morkel] and I have worked on a plan that we’re both happy with… now it’s just time to hit the track, execute and beat the clock!
‘I’ll race at Sasolburg on the 28th of this month and possibly the league meet on the 1st of April. I don’t think there are races there after and I’ll be doing both the 100/200 at SA’s in Potch.’
In other contests, Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Ruswahl Samaai won the men’s long jump with a best effort of 8.00m, 110m hurdles star Antonio Alkana earned a hard-fought win in his specialist discipline in 13.52 and race walker Lebogang Shange set a personal best of 11:20.06 in a rare appearance over 3 000m on the track.
Athletes from Botswana again dominated the 400m events, which were held as part of the pre-programme.
Boitumelo Masilo won the men’s one-lap dash in 45.69, while Christine Botlogetswe won the women’s race in 52.85, leading a clean sweep of the top three places.
Though the Speed Series campaign has now come to a close, the ASA Track and Field season is set to continue with the SA Junior and Youth Championships in Cape Town on 7-8 April.
– See more at: http://www.sascoc.co.za/2017/03/23/relay-quartet-speed-to-second-fastest-4×100-time/#sthash.kDHrlCUl.dpuf