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.”

Tebogo, Haingura and Sekgodiso light up the track at second ASA Grand Prix

By Karien Jonckheere

Botswana’s athletes stole the show at the second ASA Grand Prix meet of the season in Pretoria on Monday night.

Better known for his exploits over 100 and 200m, having medalled in both events at the World Athletics Championships in Budapest last year, Letsile Tebogo looked right at home in the 400m. The 20-year-old stormed to a comfortable victory in a new personal best of 44.29 seconds, so also securing Olympic qualification in the event.

Tebogo gave a hint of what he could do in the longer distance when he set a new world best of 30.69 seconds over 300m at the Simbine Curro Classic Shootout in Pretoria last month.

With his sights set firmly on the podium at Paris 2024, Tebogo told SuperSport: “No human is limited so you have to do everything that it takes.

“For us coming here it was just to check how the body was going to respond because we’ve been doing a lot of gym so you can see how the body runs and if I will get tired along the way.

As for what comes next, the world junior record holder over 100m added: “The plan for now, I think we’re going to rest for a week or two because it shows that the speed is there… the other plan for the Diamond Leagues is just to run and get used to them so that we cannot be scared when we meet in Paris at the Olympics.”

Earlier in the evening, Tebogo’s compatriot, Hethobogile Haingura claimed an Olympic qualifying time of his own in the men’s 800m.

A man on a mission to get to Paris, Haingura took to the front immediately and completed the two-lap event in 1:43.94, well under the required time, and also slicing a second and a half off his PB in the process.

The man from Botswana probably didn’t realise it at the time, but he had run the fastest ever 800m time on South African soil. The previous mark of 1:44.57 set back in 1996 in Cape Town belonged to Marius van Heerden, who sadly died of Covid in January 2021.

As Haingura collapsed to the track after his race, he was embraced by his elated training partner, Prudence Sekgodiso, who also produced an impressive performance in the women’s 800m on Monday night, dipping under the two-minute mark once again to take the win in 1:59.93. The 22-year-old South African set a new personal best of 1 minute 58.05 over 800m just a few weeks ago in Pretoria to also book her ticket to Paris.