Tebogo dominates again as SA mixed relay team set new national record


By Karien Jonckheere

Botswana’s Letsile Tebogo once again provided the highlight of the night at the third and final ASA Grand Prix meet in Johannesburg on Wednesday.

The 20-year-old blitzed to the fastest time in the world this year over 200m, powering to the finish in 19.94 seconds to eclipse the early-season time of 20.17 seconds that Jamaican Oblique Seville ran in Kingston 12 days ago.

“After we ran that 44.2 [in the 400m last week] we didn’t have enough time to train, so we were just resting and then just warming up and stretching. Producing this 19.9, it shows that everything is falling into the right track,” said Tebogo afterwards.

Lining up in the same race was two-time Olympic 100m finalist Akani Simbine, making a rare appearance over the longer distance. While he finished second to Tebogo in 20.32 seconds, he was pleased with the form he showed in a race he seldom runs.

“I’m happy with the performance, happy with the race. Very conservative actually, but happy with how I ran the 200,” said Simbine afterwards. “I didn’t actually have any expectations because I haven’t run a 200 in years.

“So for me it was just come out here and just run, something which to us actually was just a training run, and see where we’re at with training… So happy with it, happy where I finished, healthy and looking forward to the season.”

In Simbine’s absence in the shorter sprint, long jumper Cheswill Johnson ran the fastest 100m time of the night, winning the first final in a time of 10.18 seconds while Tamzin Thomas won the women’s 100m in 11.48.

The South African team of Gardeo Isaacs, Amy Naude, Zakithi Nene and Zeney Geldenhuis ensured the evening ended off on a high, setting a new national record in the mixed 4x400m relay. The quartet finished in a time of 3:14.97 to get the better of Kenya and Botswana and improve on the previous national record that was set by the SA team at the African Games in Ghana just over a week ago.

“This was tricky because I also had a 400 earlier [in the pre-programme] that I also ran but… it was a good team effort, national record, qualify for world relays, then it’s a good day,” said Nene afterwards.

“It feels great, the 4×400 mixed is still a new event for us,” added Geldenhuis. “Last week in Ghana they broke the SA record and then tonight we broke it again. We’re very happy about that because we’re taking it step by step and the team gets stronger.”