Heat Slows Marathoners as Terrific World Champs Wrap Up

South Africa’s men’s marathon team of Melikhaya Frans, Simon Sibeko and Tumelo Motlagale were the nation’s only athletes in action on the last day of the World Athletics Championships in Budapest on Sunday. Hopes were high that they could do well, after Frans finished 18th with a fast PB at the last World Championships in Oregon, but the Budapest heat took its toll on the trio.

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Motlagale was the fastest on the day, finishing in 51st place in 2:22:14, with Sibeko the last runner to cross the finish in 60th in 2:31:59. Frans decided to withdraw from the race after 30km, and was one of a total of 23 athletes that failed to finish in the scorching conditions.

After the race, which was won by Uganda’s Victor Kiplangat in 2:08:53, Motlagale explained: “The conditions were very brutal, but we had to get to the end and finish the race. I started feeling [the heat] after 25km. It was pretty good at the start of the race, but after the 25 mark, that’s when it started to rise and we started feeling the heat.”

Speaking about the fact that the South Africans all ran their own races rather than working as a team, Motlagale added: “We did have a team talk towards the beginning of the race, but sometimes the race just unfolds [differently]… We don’t really train together, so during the race, the plan starts to scatter around, and everybody decides to go on their own plan. If we were together maybe two months or three months before, maybe the race plan could have been a bit different and we could have run as a team.”

After dropping out of the race around the 30km mark, Frans said: “It was so tough for me. The first 5km my body didn’t respond very well. I didn’t know what was happening, but I tried my best and I said to myself, no, I want to go to the finishing line.”

“After 30km my body was giving up and I told myself, this is enough, I can’t suffer… Let me not finish it, because I was really struggling. I wanted to finish the race, but I saw I was not running, I was walking. It’s like my inside was running, but my outside body was not running. Then I said, no, let me not finish it, because my body is not feeling well.”

With no South Africans competing in the final session on Sunday night, it meant the team finished a third consecutive World Athletics Championships with no medals. However, local fans of the sport were still treated to another scintillating day’s action, culminating with the Dutch taking a fantastic come-from-behind win in the women’s 4x400m relay, with Femke Bol going from a distant third to narrow first in a home straight sprint for the line as she anchored her team home. Jamaica had to settle for the silver medal, with the British team taking bronze.

This came after Bol had fallen just short of the line in the mixed 4x400m relay in the opening days of the World Champs, and lost the baton in the process, thus going from sprinting for the gold medal to not officially finishing the race. However, she bounced back strongly to take the gold medal in the 400m hurdles race, then claimed a second gold with the relay team, and her sheer joy after the last race of the meet seemed a fitting way to wrap up an incredible week’s action.


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Our team on the ground at Budapest have been interviewing all South African athletes after their respective events. To get an inside view on their thoughts about their performances and the World Champs experience, click the button below!

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SA’s Relay Woes Continue as Duplantis Soars Again

South Africa’s last shot at a medal on the track at the World Athletics Championships in Budapest went up in smoke as the men’s 4x100m relay team failed to complete their race in the showpiece final on Saturday night. There was a distinct sense of déjà vu, as a similar dropped baton scenario as the Tokyo Olympics in 2021 played out on the back stretch of the track.

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This time it was the second changeover between Benjamin Richardson and Clarence Munyai that proved to be the problem, as Akani Simbine stood waiting on the home straight for the baton that never arrived. Explaining what happened, Munyai said: “It’s not nice obviously because we did quite well yesterday [in the heats], and coming into today, we were looking forward to competing.”

“Obviously, it’s my mistake, because I’m the senior guy and the change wasn’t good – he missed my hand, as my hand was moving. I was looking forward, so I didn’t see at the back, but I take the blame, it’s one of those things where it happens in sport, but you just have to bounce back and hopefully the next one we can put it together.”

Both the men’s and women’s 4x100m relay titles were won by the USA, with Noah Lyles anchoring the US men home and claiming a third gold medal to go with his winning efforts in the 100m and 200m finals. In the women’s team, Sha’Carrie Richardson added a second gold to her haul, having won the 100m and finished third in the 200m.

Earlier in the day, Irvette van Zyl “survived” the blisteringly hot conditions to finish the marathon in her first World Championship appearance. She crossed the line in 2:38:32, thus securing 45th place out of 77 starters. Having failed to finish two Olympic marathons and not even making the start of the third that she was supposed to compete in because of injury, just reaching the finish in Budapest was Van Zyl’s main mission on Saturday.

“It was just proving to myself today that I can,” she said after the race, which was won by Ethiopia’s Amane Beriso in 2:24:23. “I knew I wasn’t in the shape I wanted to be, but I just wanted to show to myself if I pitch up injury-free, I can cross the finish line. It was a bit of torture on the route, but I really enjoyed it. It’s a beautiful route, and overall I’m really pleased… I don’t think I had a plan today apart from survive and finish.”

Ischke Senekal’s best second-round throw of 16.20m in qualification was not enough to see her through to the women’s shot put final after finishing 32nd overall.

Without a doubt, one of the highlights of the day’s action was Mondo Duplantis winning the men’s pole vault, retaining the World Champs title he won in 2022 in the USA. He is thus still the reigning Olympic, World and World Indoor Champion. Having won the competition on the night in Budapest with a winning height of 6.10m, he asked the officials to push the bar up to 6.23m, so that he could try to improve his own World Record. His next three jumps saw him come very close to rewriting the record books yet again, but for now his World Outdoor Record of 6:21m and his World Indoor Record of 6.22m remain the highest marks jumped to date.

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Our team on the ground at Budapest have been interviewing all South African athletes after their respective events. To get an inside view on their thoughts about their performances and the World Champs experience, click the button below!

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Mentor Munyai Still Hungry to Compete

Clarence Munyai is the SA Record-holder in the 200m, but after showing good form in the 100m in recent months, he will be racing at these World Champs as part of the Team SA men’s 4x100m relay team on Friday. We caught up with him for a quick Q&A a few days before he left for Budapest.

In 2018, Clarence Munyai lit up the South African Championships in Pretoria when he clocked a scintillating 19.69 in the 200m final to not only claim the national title, but also set a new national record. In subsequent years, the closest he could get to posting another sub-20 was his 20.04 in 2019, mainly because a series of niggly injuries kept derailing his progress, but he remained one of the top sprinters in SA.

Having competed at the Olympics in 2016 and 2021 and the Commonwealth Games in 2018, as well as the World Champs in 2017, 2019 and 2022, and the World Relay Champs in 2021, Munyai he has been a regular member of Team SA at global competition level. He has also enjoyed some success at that level, helping SA win the 4x100m gold medal at those World Relay Champs (later rescinded due to Thando Dlodlo’s positive doping test), to go with the African Under-20 title in the 200m in 2017 and a bronze medal in the 200m at the 2022 African Champs. He was also fourth in the 200m at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

He nearly made it into the 200m at these World Champs, thanks to posting a qualifying mark of 20.22 in July, but as the fourth-fastest SA sprinter over the 200m distance, he narrowly missed selection. (Countries may only send a maximum of three qualifying athletes per event to the World Champs.) However, his great form over the 100m in the past year, which included him beating his previous best time, set in 2018, saw him once again selected to be a part of the SA 4x100m team, where he is now one of the elder statesmen of the team, in spite of just being 25.

Q. After that incredible SA Record in the 200m in 2018, it feels like you’ve really been unlucky with injuries, often just as you seem to be hitting top form again. Sorry to ask such a tough question right up front, but how are you feeling going into these World Champs, is the body holding up?
The body is holding up well, and we’ve been working really hard with my team to try and cut down injuries and get the body strong, so we don’t get Injured. Staying healthy and injury free is what brings the big performances.

Q. You ran a PB 10:04 last year in the 100m, so what are your hopes and expectations for the World Champs this year?
Running that 10.04 has really motivated me, as I have always been a 200m athlete, and that just shows me I can do great things in both the 100m and 200m. Competing at the World Champs is always about executing what we have been working on with the coach throughout training and races, and just putting everything together when it matters.

Q. You nearly made it into the 200m at these World Champs, but instead will be just part of the 4x100m relay team, whereas last year in Oregon you raced the 100m and 4x100m. Do you think this will help you, perhaps by placing less stress on your body with differing racing distances and more races?
I only have the 4x100m relay to focus on and it’s just two races, so I think my body will handle it well.

Q. Unfortunately, you and Shawn Maswanganyi ran into some issues with the baton handover at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics. Does that motivate you even more to chase a smooth relay run in Budapest?
In Tokyo, Shaun and I dropped the baton during our exchange and afterwards we had a look at our race and we’ve been working hard to rectify the mistake and change-over. We are really motivated to go out and compete, because we have a really strong 4x100m relay squad, and we want to put it together and do well at World Champs, as it will be a stepping stone to Paris next year.

Q. Similarly, after the high of winning the gold medal at the World Relay Champs in Poland in early 2021, then seeing it taken away, Team SA bounced back to make the final and finish sixth at the 2022 World Champs in Oregon. This points to the team having serious big match temperament, so do you and the guys feel ready to tackle another charge to a final and then chase a medal?
We are really motivated as a team to go and perform. In previous years, we had some setbacks, but we know that we are capable of getting a medal. All the athletes are confident and know we can build on last year’s sixth place and get a better position this year.

Q. In a recent interview with Team South Africa, Sinesipho Dambile lists you as a mentor. How important is it to you to share your experience with the young sprinting talent in South Africa?
It’s always important to try and help the next generation of athletes, because we have so much talent in South Africa, and one day we will have many Gold medal contenders. Being able to help them with what I have learnt and seeing them perform brings joy to me.

Q. Finally, what is your secret to getting faster?
The secret is being disciplined as an athlete to do the things we don’t like or are not good at, because those are the things that will help improve performance. Another of the important things to getting faster is self-belief.

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No Dampening Dambile’s Spirits

Fresh from making it into the semi-final round of the 200m at the World Athletics Championships in Budapest, we caught up with South Africa’s Sinesipho Dambile for a quick Q&A.

On Wednesday morning, in the men’s 200m first round heats, three South Africans lined up, looking to book their place in the semi-final round. By the end of the heats, there were three South African flags in the list of qualifying athletes, as Sinesipho Dambile, Luxolo Adams and Shaun Maswanganyi all went through to the next round, due to take place on Thursday night.

Dambile lined up in heat 6, running in lane 8 next to fellow PUMA athlete, 2021 Olympic Champion André de Grasse of Canada. “I felt him coming and just went with him,” says the South African. The heat was won by USA’s Erriyon Knighton in 20.17, De Grasse was second in 20.28 and Dambile claimed third in 20.34, putting him amongst the fastest losers and thus into the next round.

The young South African will also be part of the SA team in the 4x100m relay, where the SA team is expected to make the final and challenge for a podium position, but for now his focus will be on the 200m, and as he told us just before the World Champs, this is his big chance on the world stage.

Q. Being a young athlete, how important is getting to compete on a world stage in terms of getting you to where you want to be as an athlete?
It means we are at the right path with my team, we just need to keep on working consistently and we will be where we what to be with the experience we will be getting running with the top competitors.

Q. What are your goals for this year’s World Champs?
A. Focusing on my race plan and hopefully this World Champs will be a breakthrough for me in running with the best.

Q. In July you clocked 20.32 in Belgium, coming really close to your PB of 20.29, run last year in July. Do you feel you’re hitting top form at just the right time for these World Champs?
Definitely. I am catching form at the right time, and am going to run something big at the World Championships, because I am running fast at training.

Q. Having won the bronze medal in the 200m at the World Under-20 Champs in 2021, do you feel any pressure going into these World Champs, or do you still see yourself getting used to the step up to senior competition at the global level?
No pressure, it’s just me versus me, and the focus is on running a better race. I know myself, and I always run a great race when it matters the most. I love running with faster guys, because I like being the underdog.

Q. On a similar note, you won the gold medal with the SA 4x100m Relay Team at those World Under-20 Champs. Did that make you hungry for similar success at the senior level?
Definitely! Tasting that gold made me more hungry to taste one on this next level.

Q. Can you tell us what the mood is like in the SA 4x100m squad going into the World Champs? After the high and low of Poland last year, followed by making the final in the USA, there must be a lot of confidence amongst the guys?
We have a great team, and I believe we can pull it together. We get along so well that it is just a matter of time for us to get that gold.

Q. Who are your role models?
World Record-holder in the 200m Usain Bolt, and former World Record-holder Michael Johnson.

Q. Lastly, where do you see yourself in five years?
I will be in the top 1% with the great sprinters, and winning Olympic and World Championship medals!

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(Photo by Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images)

Official 2023 Comrades Pacesetters Announced

On Sunday 11 June, the Comrades Marathon will once again take to the roads between Pietermaritzburg and Durban, for the 96th edition of the Ultimate Human Race. As the thousands of runners tackle the 87.7km route, many will look to the guidance of the official Comrades Marathon Pacesetters to help them reach the finish within their target time, by hopping on to a pacing ‘bus’ led by these pacesetters.

The Comrades Pacesetters are all volunteers who regularly pace in races all over South Africa, under the auspices of one or more of the provincial pacesetting organisations. Being selected as a Comrades Pacesetter is considered a prestigious honour amongst the pacesetting community, and all the selected athletes have proven their pacing ability, fitness and reliability in the months leading up to Comrades. All of the Comrades Pacesetters have run the race a number of times before, and many have paced at Comrades before as well, so they bring a collective wealth of experience to the job.

While unofficial pacing has been part of the Comrades for many years, official pacing busses were first introduced to the race in 2003, with nine-time winner Bruce Fordyce (sub-9 Hours) amongst those first seven pacesetters, who led sub-9, sub-11 and sub-12 buses. Since then the pacing buses have become a big part of the Comrades Marathon, with the sub-12 buses in particular proving hugely popular as runners desperately try to beat the final cut-off, and many bus drivers are known for their singing, chanting and joking, which helps the runners get through the hard kilometres.

Permission Granted
As per strict rules introduced at the beginning of 2019 by Athletics South Africa (ASA), there is a clear difference between ‘pacing,’ which benefits contenders for prizes, versus ‘pacesetting,’ which is aimed at slower, non-contenders. Pacing is only allowed when officially sanctioned by athletics officials (national or provincial), while pacesetting is allowed as long as the race organiser has approved it. In this case, the Comrades Marathon Association (CMA) has once again given permission for the official Comrades Pacesetters to carry flags in the Ultimate Human Race, and runners should take note that these are the only official pacesetters in the race.

Each bus driver will carry a distinctive flag denoting their target time, ranging in 30-minute intervals from sub-9 to sub-12, so that runners can easily spot them, hop on the bus of their choice, and rely on the Pacesetter to guide them home on time. This year, for the first time, the CMA has agreed to produce the flags that the bus drivers will carry, and Mr Price has come on board as well to kit the Pacesetters out for the Comrades Expo. (They will still run the race in their club colours.) Modern Athlete magazine is an official media partner of the Official Comrades Pacesetters, and will thus feature the Pacesetters in the mag before and after the race.

Tried and Trusted Pacers
The list of 2023 Comrades Pacesetters once again includes some well-known and highly experienced stalwarts of previous years, as well as a few new faces. Several important factors were taken into consideration in the selection process, including previous Comrades record, knowledge and experience of the route and distance, as well as historical pacesetting record, consistency and ability to lead a group home.

In the list below, they are arranged according to the target time they will be aiming for, and the list includes their name, home province, number of Comrades medals (for completing the race), and the number of times they have officially paced before in the Comrades. (Please note that where it says the runner is making their pacing debut, that pertains specifically to the Comrades. All are highly experienced Pacesetters, with many pacing races under their belts.)

SUB-9:00 (Bill Rowan medal)
Joe Faber (KwaZulu-Natal) – 24 Comrades (3 as Pacesetter)
Lizo Siko (Gauteng) – 3 Comrades (Making pacing debut)

SUB-9:30 (Safe Robert Mtshali medal)
Johan van Tonder (Gauteng) – 20 Comrades (11 as Pacesetter)
Nkosinathi Singonzo (Free State) – 3 Comrades (Making pacing debut)

SUB-10:00 (Robert Mtshali medal)
Maropeng George Mojela (Limpopo) – 12 Comrades (5 as Pacesetter)
Sbusiso Mlangeni (Gauteng) – 5 Comrades (2 as Pacesetter)
Wendy Mangena (Gauteng) – 11 Comrades (Making pacing debut)

SUB-10:30 (Safe Bronze medal)
James Nkosi (KwaZulu-Natal) – 14 Comrades (1 as Pacesetter)
Tankiso ‘Moss’ Seabo (Free State) – 5 Comrades (1 as Pacesetter)
Youssef Kanouni (Western Province) – 9 Comrades (1 as Pacesetter)

SUB -11:00 (Bronze medal)
Jeff Ramokoka (Gauteng) – 22 Comrades (8 as Pacesetter)
Tumo Mokhatla (Free State) – 6 Comrades (1 as Pacesetter)
Ashraf Orrie (Western Province) – 7 Comrades (Making pacing debut)

SUB-11:30 (Safe Vic Clapham medal)
Rahuma Lucas Seleka (Limpopo) – 14 Comrades (4 as Pacesetter)
Shaunie Maregele (Western Province) – 16 Comrades (Making pacing debut)
Frans Ramoshaba (Mpumalanga) – 1 Comrades (Making pacing debut)

SUB-12:00 (Vic Clapham medal)
Shahieda Thungo (Gauteng) – 5 Comrades (4 as Pacesetter)
Lazarus Malebana (Gauteng) – 12 Comrades (1 as Pacesetter)
Sibusiso Mthembu (Gauteng) – 4 Comrades (Making pacing debut)

Where to Find the Pacesetters
The Pacesetters for each bus will aim to run the whole race together, and runners looking to join a bus early in the race will find them in the following seeding pens at the race start in Pietermaritzburg:
SUB-9:00 – Front of C Batch
SUB-9:30 – Back of C Batch
SUB-10:00 – Front of D Batch
SUB-10:30 – Back of D Batch
SUB-11:00 – F Batch
SUB-11:30 – G Batch
SUB-12:00 – H Batch

Please note: Given the nature of the challenge of the Comrades Marathon, runners can fall ill or pick up an injury near to race-day, and should there be any changes in the line-up of Pacesetters, Modern Athlete will post updated info on social media, and the provincial pacesetting organisations will also publicise any updates on their platforms.

For more info…
For more info on the official 2023 Comrades Pacesetters, please make contact with Joe Faber, Chief co-ordinator of the 2023 Comrades Pacesetting team, on 072 180 3769 or faberj532@gmail.com.

If you would like to know more about becoming a pacesetter, you can contact one of the pacesetting organisations via their Facebook groups:

This media release was compiled by Sean Falconer, Editor of Modern Athlete magazine. He can be contacted on 083 273 6289 or seanf@modernathlete.co.za. Photo by Tobias Ginsberg.

Wayde is Back!

Wayde van Niekerk proved he’s well on the way back to his finest form, running the fastest time since his career-threatening 2017 injury to claim the national 400m title at the SA Track and Field Championships in Potchefstroom on Saturday, and providing just one of the many highights of the final day of action. – BY KARIEN JONCKHEERE

When he clocked 44.95 seconds to win his semi-final round of the men’s 400m, Wayde van Niekerk gave a hint of things to come, and then dropped to a comfortable-looking 44.17 in the final to claim his first national 400m title since 2016 – the same year he broke the world record. Van Niekerk admitted afterwards that while his body is feeling good, the mental side of his performance still needs some work. “My body is perfect, my body feels strong. I am handling the rounds well – it’s just the holistic package that I’m working on and hopefully it will all come together,” he said.

“Honestly, I just want to survive right now. I just want to overcome straining the body physically and mentally, pushing barriers and challenging myself. Today I can say I crossed the line healthy. I was far from where I wanted to be mentally, but I overcame that and ran a good time. It was tough… you’ve seen the rollercoaster since my injury, and with that comes a lot of mental battles and challenges, questions and doubts, and just trying to fight through it, but I’m grateful to put down a time that gives me hope.”

Also impressing in the 400m was World Junior Champion Lythe Pillay, who ran the first sub-45-second time of his career with a 44.94 in the semifinal, and then he went even quicker for his silver medal behind Van Niekerk, crossing the finish line in 44.80. Van Niekerk credited the youngster for spurring him on to such a speedy time. “That’s why I ran what I ran today. I wouldn’t have run a race like that if I thought the competition was easy,” said the 2016 Olympic champion.

Results to Write Home ABout

The qualifying time in the men’s 400m for the World Championships in Budapest later this year is 45 seconds, meaning both Van Niekerk and Pillay dipped under that mark twice on Saturday. The other qualifier of the day was Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Zeney van der Walt, who showed impressive form in the women’s 400m hurdles to take a third national title in 54.82.

“I just focused on my own race, so I didn’t hear anyone or see anyone. I wanted to run a sub-55, and I’m very grateful for that,” said Van der Walt. “It felt like a really nice race. I kept calm, focused, and my race plan went almost as perfectly as I wanted it to.”

Meanwhile, there were two impressive doubles completed on Saturday with Miranda Coetzee claiming both the women’s 400m and 200m just a few hours apart, while Prudence Sekgodiso successfully defended her 800m and 1500m titles. Coetzee claimed both her gold medals in personal best times, securing 400m honours in 51.04 and the 200m in 22.74. “I just had to fix my mindset. That’s the only thing that I had to do there. I came here with a goal because normally I write them down, so I told God that I’m going to come back with two gold medals, and that’s what I did, so I’m just so thankful,” she said.

Sekgodiso claimed the 1500m in a time of 4:17.22, and followed that up with the 800m victory in 2:03.92. “I came here knowing I was going to take on the double, so the only things that I came here for was to defend both my titles and also to run sub-2:05 in the 800m. I did that and I’m over the moon,” she said.

The other notable performance of the day came from hammer thrower Leandri Geel, who only switched to the event from discus four years ago. Coached by former Commonwealth Games champion and multiple SA Champion Chris Harmse, Geel has gone from strength to strength, and on Saturday she broke the South African women’s record with a final-round effort of 65.18m. “It’s such a relief to get it, because I’ve been working so hard and it just all fell into place today,” said an elated Geel afterwards.

Wet Second Day Dampens SA Champs

Day two of the SA Track and Field Championships in Potchefstroom came to a soggy end as persistent rain meant numerous events had to be postponed until Saturday, but there were still some highlights worth mentioning. – BY KARIEN JONCKHEERE

In spite of persistently wet condition during the second day of the national champs meet, an absorbing men’s triple jump competition was decided by just one centimetre as Lleyton Davids (pictured above) secured a third consecutive national title, with a leap of 16.92m. Welre Olivier just missed out on gold with a best of 16.91m, while his 17-year-old brother, Ethan Welre, wasn’t far behind, securing the bronze medal with a jump of 16.85m.

Based in Vereeniging after their parents returned to the country from New Zealand, the Olivier brothers have been rewriting the Kiwi record books in recent months. In February, Welre broke the senior national New Zealand record, which had stood for 45 years, with a jump of 16.48m. Ethan bettered the under-20 record with a leap of 16.22m. Although longer, Friday’s jumps won’t count as new records, unfortunately, as they were wind-assisted.

Olivier is a familiar name in triple-jumping circles, with the boys’ father and coach, Wikus, having held the South African record of 16.89m from 1994 to 2004, when it was broken by Khotso Mokoena’s leap of 16.96m. Olympic long jump silver medallist Mokoena went on to better that with a 17.35m effort in 2014 – a record that still stands. “I am very proud of the boys, we worked hard the whole year,” said a proud Wikus afterwards. “It’s just a pity the wind was a bit strong. This was the best triple jump competition in years, with three jumpers so close to 17m.”

Painful Exit for Adams

Elsewhere, there was despair for Luxolo Adams in his 200m semi-final. The World Championship finalist pulled up in the home straight and was ruled out of being able to challenge for a first national title since 2018. Adams is hopeful that it’s nothing serious, and said, “It was just a cramp, very sensitive pulling, but we’ll get it sorted within the next couple of weeks. Hopefully, we get a positive result tomorrow when I go for a scan, and we’ll take it from there,”

He added, “I started feeling it approaching the 100m mark… I wanted to continue, but it was just too sensitive. Now the focus is on recovering well and getting back on the track. I’m very disappointed, but this is sport, and these things are there for us as athletes. I’m just going to keep my head up and keep on training and keep on coming back.”

As for his plans for the rest of the season, Adams said, “We’ll see how the season goes, but I still believe there’s more in the tank. I can still go sub-20 seconds. Training has been good, there hasn’t been anything off. These were just unforeseen circumstances, but I’ll remain positive, like I said, and focus on the season.”

In Adams’ absence, Eckhart Potgieter (20.63), Tsebo Matsotso (20.48) and Armand van der Walt (20.70) won their respective 200m semi-finals. In the women’s 200m semi-finals, Shirley Nekhubui (23.12) and Miranda Coetzee (23.01) won their heats and progressed to the final, with Coetzee looking to do an ambitious double in the 200m and 400m, with both finals being contested on Saturday.

Photograph by Cecilia van Bers

Confident Simbine Retains SA Crown

An exciting first day of action at the ASA Senior Track and Field Championships in Potchefstroom saw sprinter Akani Simbine claim a fifth national title in the men’s 100m, while there were also repeat wins for other SA stars. – BY KARIEN JONCKHEERE

Akani Simbine believes he has nothing more to prove, and it shows. The two-time Olympic finalist produced the top performances of the opening day of the SA Championships in Potchefstroom on Thursday, admitting afterwards that he’s in a much happier place than last year, when he burst into floods of tears after safely securing the 2022 national 100m title.

Simbine blitzed to a speedy 9.98 seconds in Thursday’s heats, and then bettered that with a 9.92 in the semifinals – both within the 10-second qualifying standard for the World Athletics Championships taking place in August in Budapest, Hungary. He then ran 10.14 in the final for a fifth national 100m title.

“I just had a little technical error in the beginning, but other than that it was a good race. It’s just unfortunate it’s a bit chilly right now and the wind was against us, but the legs are still good. I can go another round,” he joked afterwards. “I’m just happy to be running well and feeling good and having everything around me be in a good space. My confidence has been up since I started training. I had to just get my head right, and I think that’s one big play right now.”

“Last year a lot of things were happening, but this year my confidence is back up and I’ve got to a point where I don’t have to prove anything to anyone. I know I am fast, I know I’m one of the best sprinters in the world, so I just have to go out there, train hard, focus on training, do better every time on the track, and get there and perform,” added Simbine.

More Repeat Winners

Also claiming a fifth national title in the 100m on Thursday was women’s champion Carina Horn. She held on for victory in 11.52 seconds, just in front of Tamzin Thomas who took the silver in 11.58. “It was a bit tough… there was a bit of a headwind, but I’m just happy to defend my title,” she said after her final, and about claiming a fifth title, she added: “It feels good. It’s probably my second-last year, so it’s good to have it back again.”

On the other end of the distance spectrum, Glenrose Xaba dominated the women’s 10,000m final. The 28-year-old lapped almost the entire field on her way to a sixth national title in the event, just missing the sub-33-minute mark as she finished in 33:02.13. “It’s high altitude so I’m happy with the time,” said Xaba afterwards.

Sadly, Xaba didn’t get to run alongside her coach, Caster Semenya, as she had hoped to do. The two-time Olympic 800m Champion was initially included on the start list for the 10,000m race, but chose not to compete in what would effectively have been her final competitive race, with World Athletics’ new regulations barring her participation in all distances because of naturally occurring testosterone levels, which come into effect on Friday 31 March.

Van Niekerk Inspires

Meanwhile, the Potch fans were treated to the sight of a fit-again Wayde van Niekerk cruising through his 400m heat on Thursday. The 400m World Record-holder is making a return to the event at the national championships for the first time since 2016 and comfortably won his heat in a time of 45.99 seconds.

Also looking in fine form was reigning World Junior Champion Lythe Pillay, who easily won his heat in a slightly quicker 45.95. “It felt comfortable, but I wasn’t expecting to push for that time in the heat,” said the 20-year-old afterwards. As for his impressions of the returning Van Niekerk, Pillay reckoned: “Wayde is the best there is… I had a bit of a fan moment watching him, and then I was like, no, you have to get ready to run now. But it was nice, seeing how he runs, seeing him in person. I’m looking forward to racing with him.”

“Having him back is good, exciting. It also motivates all of us, because when it comes time to race, we all want to do our best, for ourselves, but also to impress him a bit as well. He’s motivated a lot of athletes like myself. I’ve been his fan for quite a while, and he inspired me to run the 400, so it’s good to see him back,” added Pillay.

Action at the SA Track and Field Championships continues on Friday and comes to an end on Saturday, 1 April.

Absa RUN YOUR CITY Series Expands in 2023

After a fantastic 2022 season, which saw the Absa RUN YOUR CITY Series back to near capacity attendance, title sponsor Absa together with Stillwater Sports, the organiser of South Africa’s award-winning road running series, are excited to welcome Gqeberha and Tshwane as host cities, elevating the series from three to five mass participation events in 2023.

The two new cities will add a fresh and exciting experience for runners competing in those events. The Gqeberha event will take place on 2 April, and will see more world class performances in a city that is well known for breaking records. Later in the year, runners will line up in Tshwane on 27 August, for an experiential mass participation event in the Jacaranda City.

“We are thrilled to welcome Gqeberha and Tshwane as host cities of the Absa RUN YOUR CITY Series in 2023,” says Michael Meyer, Managing Director of Stillwater Sports and Founder of the Absa RUN YOUR CITY Series. “Growing the series from three to five events is no small feat, and would not have been possible without the support of our title sponsor, Absa, which has been a driving force since we welcomed them onboard in 2021, and other key sponsors such as PUMA, DHL and Chery, to mention just a few.”

“Another important factor that should not be overlooked is the relationships that we have with each host city, which has contributed immensely to the success of the Cape Town, Durban and Joburg events, and ultimately the series. We are excited to work with Gqeberha and Tshwane, to further grow the status of the series,” he adds.

The full set of dates of the 2023 Absa RUN YOUR CITY SERIES will be:

Sunday 2 April 2023                        Absa RUN YOUR CITY GQEBERHA 10K

Sunday 14 May 2023                      Absa RUN YOUR CITY CAPE TOWN 10K

Sunday 9 July 2023                        Absa RUN YOUR CITY DURBAN 10K

Sunday 27 August 2023                  Absa RUN YOUR CITY TSHWANE 10K

Sunday 24 September 2023            Absa RUN YOUR CITY JOBURG 10K


Proudly South African Series

The Absa RUN YOUR CITY Series has been revolutionising the sport in South Africa since 2015. A road running celebration like no other, the series began with the Cape Town leg in 2015, with the Joburg leg added in 2016 and the Durban leg in 2017. Now, in 2023, the two new events will see the series grow to five events.

“The Absa RUN YOUR CITY Series joins elites, avid runners, walkers and individuals looking to live healthier lifestyles,” continues Meyer. “World class achievements and fun for all participants go hand-in-hand at each event. In 2023 we are both excited and proud to take the action to five major cities, growing our reach while giving more South Africans the opportunity to be part of the Absa RUN YOUR CITY Series experience. Emphasis will be placed on hosting mass participation road races that highlight city landmarks, include magnificent views, and feature lively performances from some of the host city’s leading performing arts groups.”

In closing, Meyer adds: “We look forward to welcoming new runners to the series, but also urge the existing RUN YOUR CITY community to join us in the new cities to give Gqeberha and Tshwane the true RUN YOUR CITY experience. We can’t wait to welcome thousands of runners from across South Africa as well as elite athletes from around the world to the Absa RUN YOUR CITY Series in 2023.”

Sponsorship Goals

Absa Chief Executive Product Solutions, Geoffrey Lee, says that his team is equally excited about the expanded series in 2023. “Our purpose at Absa is to bring possibilities to life, and we believe that everyone should have access to all our sponsorships. When we came onboard as a sponsor of the biggest mass participation event in the country, our key objective was to get the country moving in the right direction, and help our communities and colleagues to aspire to change their lives and that of their community for the better. We recognise that now, more than ever, we need to play an even greater role in bringing the Absa RUN YOUR CITY Series closer to the people,” he says.

“We have witnessed on many occasions how sport has consistently served as a powerful vehicle for societal change, and a great unifier in challenging times for our nation. Through our Together we can be more, Siyabangena campaign, which runs concurrently with the Absa RUN YOUR CITY series of events, Absa challenges all runners and walkers to be a force for good and actively create change in communities, while providing an opportunity to get active, reach performance goals, connect with other runners and explore our beautiful South African cities,” he adds.

Entries for all five events will open on Monday 5 December 2022 on the official event website, www.runyourcityseries.com.

Entries Open for 21st Dis-Chem Half Marathon

Entries are open for the 21st Dis-Chem Half Marathon and Centrum 5km Dash Fun Run, taking place on Sunday 15 January 2023.This is Gauteng’s premier half marathon, and is hosted by Bedfordview Country Club Athletics.

The race route remains unchanged, winding its way through the hills of Bedfordview, Morninghill and Primrose, and providing runners with a challenging course and spectacular views. The Half Marathon starts in Riley Road at 6am, and will have a seeded start.

Race marshals will be stationed along the route to ensure the safety of runners, while simultaneously offering them encouragement, and there will be six water points, but runners are encouraged to bring their own water. Space for club gazebos as well as catering, locker and shower facilities will be available at the finish.

The race has previously sold out within a couple of weeks of entries opening. There are 6500 entries available for the 21km race and all entrants will receive a moisture-management race T-shirt. Athletes can also choose to purchase a commemorative medal for the 21km. Entries will close on 15 December, or once the 6500 available entries are sold. The Centrum 5km Fun Run will also be back, and the first 600 entries will get a Centrum-branded moisture-management T-shirt.

Thanks for the Support!

Race Director Charn Swart says, “Bedfordview Country Club Athletics looks forward to celebrating the 21st anniversary of the race that kicks off the 2023 running season. What a fantastic journey with Dis-Chem and co-sponsors that enable races like ours for novice and seasoned runners alike to enjoy.”

Stan Goetsch of headline sponsor, Dis-Chem, adds, “We are extremely proud of our 21-year sponsorship of the event. The promotion of a healthy lifestyle, our emphasis on overall well-being and our support of the sport, has always been paramount to us at Dis-Chem. Through our long-standing relationship with Bedfordview Country Club Athletics, who continue to deliver a first-class event, we trust that we have achieved this.”

The organisers would also like to thank the following co-sponsors: Centrum, Norflex Gel, smecta, TransAct, ViralChoice and Biogen for their continued support, which has spanned many years. Their contributions remain crucial to ensuring the continued success of the event.

Funds will be raised for the two race charities: Lambano Sanctuary for orphaned children with HIV, and the Namaqua Dog and Donkey Foundation, which undertakes the sterilisation, vaccination and treatment of animals in informal settlements on the East Rand. All donations by runners, over and above their entry fee, will be matched by the Dis-Chem Foundation.

Enter online now at https://dischem21.co.za. The 21km race general entry fee is R200, while the 5km Dash race entry fee is R100 (and thereafter R70 without a T-shirt). If you have questions, please mail the organisers at info@dischem21.co.za.