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Athletics | SA Track & Field

Wenda Nel © SuperSport.com

Nel races to a season’s best

The South African 400m-hurdles champion, Wenda Nel (Tuks), proved last night during the Liquid Telecom Athletics Grand Prix-meeting at Tuks that she was a quick learner when she raced to a winning time of 55.31s.

Her time is more than a second faster than her winning time two weeks ago at the Gauteng North Championships.

“The mistake I made during the provincial championships was being too conservative in my approach. After I have finished, I was not tired at all. It was as if I had run in slow-mo. I easily could have run another race. That made me realise that I can’t afford to waste time. I got to be more confident in my abilities and get the burners going earlier on during the race,” said Nel.

Her winning time at the Gauteng North Championships was 56.63s.

The Tuks-athlete is confident that she will be able to run an even faster time next week during the South African Championships.

As expected, the former world champion, Nicholas Bett (Kenya), won the men’s 400m-hurdles race. It is the second time this season he managed to dip under 49 seconds. His winning time was 48.88s.

Le Roux Hamman (Tuks) was second in a personal best time of 49.22s with LJ van Zyl (Tuks) third in 49.45s. It was the 155th time in his career that he dipped under 50 seconds. Cornel Fredericks (Tuks), who raced for the first time this season, was fourth in a respectable time of 49.63s while the world youth champion, Sokwakhana Zazini (TuksSport High School), was fifth, setting a new personal best time of 49.82s.

Hamman is undoubtedly starting to establish himself as one of the top dogs in South African 400m-hurdling, proving that his victory at last year’s national championships was no fluke. Two weeks ago he also won the Gauteng North Championships. His time of 49.22s is also the fastest so far for a South African athlete.

The Tuks-athlete makes no secret as to what motivates him.

“I want to start to make a living from running. The only way to do is to run fast times. The quicker, the better. That is the only way you can get sponsors interested. I know an improvement of 0.02s is not much, but for now, I will take it. I am confident that sub-49s race is going to happen. It is just a question of when.

“Tonight (last night) I again felt I was getting stronger towards the end of the race. I think a certain way for me to improve my time is to start my final surge towards the finish line earlier. My technique going over the hurdles also needs some work.”

As to defending his South African title next week, Hamman said: “Winning or losing is not that important. What matters is that I keep on improving my times.”


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