Young Mkenku saves SA blushes

OSAKA - As the South African team came to terms with the shock of lost medal opportunities in the marathon and 400m hurdles from the first day of the World Championships here, 18-year-old Constance Mkenku progressed to the 100m quarterfinals.

OSAKA - As the South African team came to terms with the shock of lost medal opportunities in the marathon and 400m hurdles from the first day of the World Championships here, 18-year-old Constance Mkenku progressed to the 100m quarterfinals.

The junior athlete was catapulted into the World Championships following a series of personal bests at the All Africa Games and yesterday provided the most encouraging performance for the future of the country's athletics.

"I was really stressed. I looked at the draw and there were no juniors or youth names that I knew from major events. I thought what I am doing here? Then I thought just run for myself," said the All Africa silver medallist of her first round.

Mkenku was first out of the blocks and lying third for 70 metres before Bulgarian Ivet Lalova caught up with her and 2006 European bronze medallist Irina Khabarova edged her out in a photo finish.

European champion Christine Arron won the heat in 11:27, with Olympic medallist Debbie Ferguson-Mckenzie on 11:36. Only 0.3 seconds separated the next three, leaving Mkenku in fifth with 11:50 seconds. - Sapa

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