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Athletics | SA Track & Field

Simon Magakwe © Gallo Images

SA Open suffers because of no-shows

While the SA Open athletics championships saw many African athletes participating in the event, ridiculously small fields in some events took the shine off the promising event which took place in Pretoria on Friday and Saturday.

In the women's 800m race, only four athletes pitched for the final while the 10 000m and 3000m steeplechase for men saw only two athletes participating in each event.

Athletics South Africa (ASA) president James Evans said he was annoyed by some of the athletes who entered but failed to turn up without prior notification.

"It is fine if they don't enter, we can deal with it," Evans said.

"It was a great meeting and I think Gauteng North did a great job of putting it on but when athletes don't withdraw formally, and don't pitch, it messes up the lane draws and it makes a mockery of the whole meeting.

"It is not something that is unusual in South African athletics and it is something we need to address."

South African women's sprinting ace Tsholofile Thipe once again ran a qualifying time in the 200m adding to the Olympic qualifying mark she set in the 400m final the day before.

She ran a time of 23.04sec in the semifinal, dipping below the qualifying time of 23.10sec for the second time this season.

Thipe won the final in a time of 23.18 with Namibians Globine Mayova and Tjipekapora Herunga finishing in second and third places respectively.

She also ran the 400m in a time of 51.24sec breaking the Olympic standard of 51.55 for the second time this season.

The speedster, like her training partner Simon Magakwe, has consistently run faster than the Olympic qualifying times.

The two sprinters' times could cement their places in the South African Olympic team but confirmation was still needed as to whether or not the meeting had international status.

Their coach Eugene Thipe said he was concerned about the athletes suffering fatigue by the time the July Games get underway.

“Let the federation do what they have to do, obviously it is a bit unfair towards the athletes but we can do it anyway, at any time and at any place,” said (Eugene) Thipe.

“The most important thing that I am concerned about is athletes over-racing in an attempt to qualify and then they make the A standard maybe in the late hours and go to the Olympics as tired as possible.”

With the monkey of reaching her first Olympic Games qualifying time off her back, South African women's one-lap hurdler Wenda Theron improved her personal best time she set on Friday.

Theron won the 400m hurdles final on Saturday in a time of 55.36 seconds, a hundredth of a second faster than the time she set the day before.

She dipped below the Games qualifying mark of 55.50sec for the first time on Friday when she ran a time of 55.79 seconds in the heats and, in the process, recording the third fastest time by a South African.

In the men's 400m Ofentse Mogowane came painstakingly close to setting a qualifying time winning the race in a time of 45.54 seconds.

He recorded the second fastest time of the season with only Oscar Pistorius running faster this year (45.20), dipping below the Olympic qualifying standard of 45.30.

Mogowane was followed by Issac Makwala of Botswana in 45.99 with Sibusiso Sishi taking third place in 46.37.

Thuso Mpuang once again broke the Olympic qualification barrier when he won the 200m race in a time of 20.44sec with Roscoe Engel finishing in second place on 20.64 and Lebogang Moeng in third place posting a time of 20.98.


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