Mokoka records Olympic qualifier
Distance ace Stephen Mokoka set his first Olympic qualifying time in the men's 10 000 metres race on the opening day of the SA Senior Athletics Championships in Port Elizabeth on Friday.
Mokoka crossed the finish line in a time of 27 minutes, 40.73 seconds (20:40.73), dipping below the Olympic qualifying standard of 27:45.00.
Gladwin Mzazi was second in 28:20.18 and Xolisa Tyali secured the bronze medal in 28:29.20.
The pint-sized Mokoka had already qualified for the marathon event at the London Olympic Games -- one of five South Africans who have met the standard over the classic distance.
While Mokoka is equally adept in the marathon and the 10 000m, he said he was leaning towards the longer distance.
"For now I am doing my speed work," he said.
"My coach (Michael Seme) and I haven't decided yet, but initially we decided that I was going to do the marathon [in London].
"We still have time because if I prepare for the marathon I will take about three months, so I will go sit down with my coach.
"I think the marathon would be better but he [Seme] will decide."
Mokoka ran himself into the record books, recording the third fastest time by a South African over 10 000m on the track, with only Hendrick Ramaala (27:29.94) and Xolile Yawa (27:39.69) ahead of him.
Meanwhile, SA long jump champion Khotso Mokoena was dethroned by young pretender Zarck Visser, who leaped to a personal best of 8.21 metres to take the spoils.
Visser was, however, assisted by a tailwind of 2.2 metres per second which made the jump null and void in terms of Olympic qualifying.
His second best jump of 8.07m was registered as legal and proved to be a new personal best for the 22-year-old.
"I guess it is just one of those things, and it was just a good day," Visser said.
"We all knew that the wind would play a big factor."
Visser's coach, Ammerie Fouche, said the wind-assisted jump of 8.21m was significant as it was the same distance her husband, former SA long jump record holder Francois Fouche, set in 1990.
"I think even last night I knew I was going to jump big, it was just a matter of time," said Visser.
While Visser was walking on air, Mokoena struggled to find the right rhythm, recording only two jumps over the eight-metre mark, with a best of 8.13m with a tailwind of 4.5 metres per second.
He was once again bothered by his run-up as his first two leaps were no-jumps.
Ruswahl Samaai clinched the bronze medal with a distance of 7.61m.
Earlier, Rene Kalmer won her 32nd national title when she crossed the line first in the women's 5 000m in a time of 15:55.05.
She was followed by Irvette van Blerk in 16:25.89 in second place, with Mpho Mabuza clocking 16:45.40 for third.
"I don't think one can have too many titles," said Kalmer, who will run the marathon at the London Games.
"I didn't really know what to expect because it was my first track race [this season], but I am satisfied."
Kalmer confirmed she would be back in action on Sunday, this time on the road, at the Spar Women's Challenge 10km race in Cape Town.
South African hammer thrower Chris Harmse continued his reign in his specialist event, winning the title for the 17th consecutive time.
Double amputee Oscar Pistorius, a former silver medallist at the able-bodied nationals, reached the final of the men's 400m event, finishing fourth in his semifinal in 47.91.
1 Steven Mokoka 27:40.73
2 Gladwin Mzazi 28:20.18
3 Xolisa Tyali 28:29.20
1 Zarck Visser 8.21
2 Khotso Mokoena 8.13
3 Ruswahl Samaai 7.61
1 Robert Oosthuizen 76.32
2 Jason Henning 76.12
3 Hardus Pienaar 72.04
1 Chris Harmse 70.41
2 Kristiaan Bekker 65.11
3 Johan Kruger 64.47
1 Heinrich Smit 4.90
2 Migael Cilliers 4.80
3 Armand Lotter 4.80
1 Orazio Cremona 19.68
2 Burger Lamprechts 19.63
3 Jaco Engelbrecht 18.62
1 Rene Kalmer 15:55.05
2 Irvette van Blerk 16:25.89
3 Mpho Mabuza 16:45.40
1 Magdaleen Louw 52.50
2 Nanette Stapelberg 52.42
3 Karin le Roux 51.62
1 Nicholeen McLaren 6.60
2 Carla Marais 6.40
3 Lynique Prinsloo 6.37
1 Deone Joubert 3.60
2 Jeannie van Dyk 3.60
3 Mar-leze Vos 3.50