Eight Saffers looking for Olympic Qualifiers
Simon Magakwe is one of eight athletes who will be looking to qualify for the Olympic Games at the CAA African Senior Championships in Benin with the first day of competition starting on Wednesday.
Magakwe can qualify in 100m and 200m. He ran the required A-standard a total of six times in the men’s 100m during the local athletics season, but unfortunately missed the 10.18sec qualifying mark while competing in Europe.
The 27-year-old came close in Praha in the Czech Republic on 11 June, clocking 10.22sec to win the race. He requires 20.50sec in the men’s 200m in order to join Anaso Jobodwana who has recently qualified for the Olympic Games.
Another athlete in the 200m is Thuso Mpuang who has reached the A-standard at Yellow Pages II in Potchefstroom on 24 March (20.50sec) and again at the SA Open Championships in Pretoria on 5 May (20.44sec). His best result in Europe was on 7 June in Rhede, Germany, where he won the race in 20.78sec.
Oscar Pistorius has also been struggling to reach the qualifying time for a second time. After his first qualifier of 45.20sec at the Gauteng North Provincial Championships on 17 March, Pistorius will have to clock another 45.30 or better in order to qualify. The 25-year-old has already been included in the Paralympic team, but always had the dream of competing in the Olympics for abled bodied athletes.
Andre Olivier will be looking for his second qualifier and with athletes such as Kenya’s David Rudisha, Anthony Chemut (KEN) and Nijel Amos (BOT) among others to drag him to a fast time. 1:45.60 is required for Olivier to qualify. Rudisha, also the defending champion and World Championships gold medallist, has a best time this season of 1:41.74. Chemut, the Kenyan 800m National Champion and Africa Championships silver medallist, has been included to compete at the Championships. He ran a personal best of 1:43.96 in Nairobi on 23 June. The 18-year-old Amos ran his personal best of 1:43.11 on 9 June in Germany.
SA 1 500m champion Johan Cronje also stands a chance to qualify for the Games should he be able to reach or dip under the 3:35.50 qualifying mark. With the speed of athletes from elsewhere in Africa, a fast time could be on the cards in Benin with the weather and circumstances permitting.
Among the women are Tsholofelo Thipe and Wenda Theron. Thipe has reached qualifiers twice in the 200m and 400m and will compete in both events in Benin. The 25-year-old first ran 22.89sec in Potchefstroom on 24 March and dipped under the 23.10sec qualifying mark in Pretoria again on 5 May with a 23.04sec clocking. Her first qualifier in the 400m (51.55sec) was in Pretoria on 5 April and again on 4 May, clocking 51.52sec and 51.47sec respectively.
400m hurdles athlete Wenda Theron had the best season of her career dipping under the 57sec mark for the first time in her career. She then reached the 55.50sec qualifying standard on local soil for the first time at the SA Open Championships in Pretoria on 4 May and again the very next day, clocking 55.37sec and 55.36sec respectively.
The Gauteng North athlete then travelled to Europe in order to qualify but clocked times consistently over the 56sec mark. “I concentrated too hard on qualifying in Europe. I want to run in Benin to enjoy it without any pressure of having to qualify for the Olympics,” said Theron. She reached the finals at the 2010 Championships in Kenya, but is hoping to improve and finish in the top three this year.
A total of 50 countries will compete at the 18th edition of the Championships in Benin with just over 800 expected to compete. The CAA Africa Senior Championships will run from 27 June to 1 July.