Leandri Geel stole the limelight on Wednesday night by breaking the national women’s hammer throw record at the second leg of the ASA Grand Prix Series, a Continental Tour Challenger at Germiston Athletics Stadium, Ekurhuleni, despite the challenging conditions.
While there were some impressive performances on the track, Geel sent the hammer sailing out to 66.11 metres, adding 31 centimetres to the national mark of 65.80m which was set by US-based athlete Phethisang Makhethe in April last year.
“I’m very happy with my achievement, though I didn’t expect that I’ll actually do it here,” said Geel.
Two other athletes cleared the 60m mark, with Algeria’s Zahra Tatar launching a 63.05m heave for second place and former national record holder Marga Cumming producing a best throw of 61.92m to end third.
Though the conditions were not conducive to running fast times in the sprint events, due to the cold weather, there were also some solid performances on the track.
African champions Sokwakhana Zazini and Zeney van der Walt dominated the men’s and women’s 400m hurdles.
Zazini hit three hurdles, which slowed him down, but he managed to recover enough to claim victory in 49.54 seconds, holding off a challenge from Botswana’s Kemorena Tisang who took the runner-up spot in 49.62. Kenyan athlete Wiseman Were was third in 49.78.
“With hurdles this is part of the game. You’re going to knock some hurdles and when you do you’ve just got to stay focussed and maintain your speed,” Zazini said. “But I trust myself and I knew even if I hit hurdles it was going to be hard for them to stay up with me.”
In-form athlete Van der Walt, won the women’s race comfortably in 55.28, finishing well clear of Taylon Bieldt, who was second in 56.63 after she tore clear over the final barrier.
“It was a nice race and another opportunity to execute what I’ve been doing in training,” Van der Walt said. “The weather was a bit cold, so I think that’s why the time wasn’t as fast as I hoped it would be, but I will take whatever positives I can take from the race.”
Marione Fourie also did well in the women’s 100m hurdles, recovering from illness earlier in the week to clock 13.00 for another impressive victory, well ahead of second-placed athlete Kayla van den Berg.
“I wanted to run a personal best but I’m happy because I was sick over the weekend and I was still able to run a good time,” Fourie said.
In the men’s 110m hurdles, SW Nel triumphed in a tight battle, clocking 13.91 and edging out runner-up Mondray Barnard who was second in 13.93.
Foreign athletes dominated the men’s 100m sprint, with Kenyan star Ferdinand Omanyala taking the win in 10.05 seconds. His compatriot, Samwel Imeta, finished second in 10.22, while Sibusiso Matsenjwa from the Kingdom of Eswatini crossed the line in third position in 10.33. Reabetswe Moloi won the women’s 100m dash in 11.65, with Boipelo Tshemese grabbing second spot in 11.86.
In other track events on the main programme, Eckhardt Potgieter (20.54) and hurdles specialist Taylon Bieldt (23.50) won the men’s and women’s 200m races. Marlie Viljone (51.81) and Gardeo Isaacs (45.30) blitzed around the track to secure victory in the women’s and men’s 400m contests, while Charne Swart (2:04.74) and Boitumelo Masilo (1:47.21) won the women’s and men’s 800m races.
In field events, Welre Olivier narrowly won the men’s triple jump, leaping 16.43m to beat his brother Ethan Olivier (16.41m) by just two centimetres, while Victor Hogan took the men’s discus throw with a 62.48m heave, and Ischke Senekal triumphed in the women’s shot put with a best throw of 16.89m.
“All signs were there that a national record was in the offing at this meeting and it happened as predicted. We are proud of what Leandri and her coach have achieved. She produced a super performance and she seemed to surprise herself. I don’t think she expected it tonight.
“It’s been a wonderfull night of serious preparation for many and a great achievement for others who improved their performances. We were witnesses to several personal bests as well.”
Image: Leandri Geel’s national record hammer throw scream (photo: Cecilia van Bers)