SA juniors conquer regional games
South Africa's most promising junior women led the charge this week, as the national team dominated the podium at the AUSC Region 5 Games (formerly Zone 6 Games) in Luanda, Angola.
The SA athletics squad earned a total of 43 medals (22 gold, nine silver and 12 bronze), including three silver and three bronze in para-athletics events, during the four-day track and field competition at the Southern Region multi-sport showpiece.
Sprinter Marli Viljoen was the star performer, taking home four medals.
Viljoen stormed to 200m gold in 25.48 seconds and 400m silver in 56.04, and formed part of the 4x100m (50.00) and 4x400m (3:51.29) relay quartets who won their respective finals.
Carien Sander also bagged four medals in the same events, with bronze in the 200m (25.91) and 400m (56.99) sprints.
Velmein Hendriks earned three gold medals, securing victory in the 100m dash in 12.33 and the 100m hurdles in 14.19, while also assisting in grabbing the 4x100m relay title.
Infield, Renate van Tonder and Tharina van der Walt were in sublime form.
Van Tonder took the win in the Women's Long Jump, with a best leap of 5.50m, and Triple Jump (12.26m), and she played a key role in the short-sprint relay team.
Van der Walt was equally impressive, scooping three individual gold medals in the Women's Shot Put (12.26m), Discus Throw (47.18m) and Hammer Throw (53.07m).
Among the men, speedster Malesela Senona won the 100m (10.48) and 200m (21.33) double, and anchored the 4x100m relay quartet to bronze in 42.05.
Silusapho Dingiswayo also stepped on the podium on three occasions, winning the Men's 110m Hurdles final in 14.81 before forming part of the 4x400m relay squad, who finished second in 3:17.72, and the third-placed 4x100m team.
In the Men's Shot Put and Discus Throw, a South African trio ensured cleansweeps.
In the Shot Put, Kyle Blignaut won with a best heave of 18.93m, with Morne Brandon (15.44m) and Ignatius Marais (14.58m) settling for second and third.
They swapped positions in the discus throw, with Marais taking gold (52.55m), followed by Blignaut (50.38m) and Brandon (50.26m).
"This is a perfect example of what we send out teams to fight for. It’s a wonderful performance from athletes who put their country first and anchored Team South Africa.
"Congratulations to all these young athletes on their excellent results," said Athletics South Africa President, Aleck Skhosana.
"This gives us an indication of the tremendous potential we have in our sport, and these results are a great way to end the 2016 season.
"We wish all athletes the best in their preparation for 2017."