Seven records shattered

RACE WNNER:Gift Leotlela from Tuks wins the 200m for men. Photo:SASPA

Thando Roto stole the show at the first 2017 Varsity Athletics meeting in Potchefstroom on Saturday March 4 when he smashed his 100m Personal Best by 0.09sec to clock 10.18sec for a win for Tuks in near wind-still conditions.

“I’m injury-free and after running that sub-10, even though it was wind-assisted, I am confident going forward.”

Roto had clocked 9.98sec in Johannesburg on February 18 with a tailwind of 2.9m/sec. “My next race will be the Athletics Gauteng North championship on March 18,” he said. All his preparations are now aimed at the South African championship in Potchefstroom in April.

Hennie Kriel, Roto’s coach, had a very successful evening as first Rikenette Steenkamp and then Tlotliso Gift Leotlela ran rampant in the women’s 100m hurdles and men’s 200m respectively. For Steenkamp it was an eventful meeting. She won the 100m hurdles women’s race in 13.61sec after stuttering at the fifth hurdle. It turned out that the hurdle was placed incorrectly and the race was rerun some 50 minutes later.

Steenkamp romped home in 13.24sec, well ahead of Kovsies Maryke Brits’ 13.65sec. “It was tough running two races in less than an hour, but I am very happy. I’m in good shape and am looking forward to racing again injury-free,” she said.

WINNING TEAM:Tuks was the overall winner of the Varsity Athletics for 2017 in Potchefstroom.

The 13.24sec is a new Varsity Athletics record. The old one of 13.48sec was one of seven Varsity Athletics records broken on the night. Steenkamp will line up next in the Athletic South Africa Speed Series Meet in Bloemfontein on March 8 in the women’s 100m hurdles.

Tlotliso Gift Leotlela made a huge statement in his first race of the season. “My legs were a bit stiff from the drive from Pretoria, but I felt I executed my race well,” said the sprinter. And he certainly did – his 20.50sec winning time was his second-best ever, after his time of 20.47sec in Lusaka in 2016. Leotlela was already in the lead coming off the bend and then powered away from Hendrick Maartens of Kovsies (20.78sec), with training partner Wally Ungerer taking third place (21.38sec). He shattered the Varsity Athletics Record of 20.66sec.

There was a bit of an upset in the men’s 800m as Pukke’s Henco Uys beat the favourites Rynhardt van Rensburg and Junior George Kusche. Uys ran the perfect race, taking the bell in 53sec with Kusche right on his heels. Van Rensburg, who had been doing altitude training in Lesotho not too long ago, had nothing in the tank and had to settle for second place in 1:50.49, with Kusche clocking 1:50.64. Uys won in 1:49.87

Rantso Mokopane won the men’s 1 500m race for the hosts, clocking 3:46.48 after 5 000m Olympian Elroy Gelant set the pace for the first 1 200m. Mokopane broke the previous Varsity Athletics record of 3:49.42.

The Varsity Athletics finals take place on March 31 at the University of Pretoria.

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Annette van Schalkwyk

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