Athletes defy strong winds and win

Mcelwa Nchabeleng

Mcelwa Nchabeleng

Mbulaeni Mulaudzi, Tsholofelo Thipe and Louis van Zyl were among the athletes who defied strong winds in Stellenbosch to prevail in the Yellow Pages Senior National Championships at the weekend.

But the strong head wind was too much for the other athletes who were hoping to qualify for the Beijing Olympics through the championships.

Sprinter Thipe won the women's 400m event in a season's best of 52,61 seconds, while Zambian Rachel Nachula finished second in 52,97 ahead of Alet van Wyk who came third in 54.46.

"My aim was not just to qualify for the Olympics in the 400m, but also to cover the distance in less than 51 seconds. The strong head wind was a real setback," said Thipe.

"Anyway, I'm back on the track after my injury and I hope to qualify for Beijing, possibly at the African Championships."

As expected Geraldine Pillay and Isabel le Roux won the women's 100m and 200m events in 12,61 and 24,37, respectively.

In the men's sprints, Hannes Dreyer pulled a double in the 100m, winning in the time of 10,92 and 200m 21,81 and Sibusiso Sishi clocked 47,02 to win the men's 400m event.

Van Zyl, who was making a comeback after poor health, claimed the 400m hurdles title in 49,86 ahead of Pieter de Villiers who finished in 50,12.

"This has come as a relief after being sick for over three weeks. I'm now confident of qualifying for the Olympics before the deadline," Van Zyl said.

Johan Cronje also came back from his hospital bed to claim the men's 1500m title in 3:46,50. Rene Kalmer added a 1 500m title to the 5 000m title when she won on the opening day of the championships, clocking 44:22,86.

Other winners were Elizna Naude (discus), high jumpers Hubert de Beer (2,18m) and Anika Smit (1,85m).

Reuben Ramolefi and Tebogo Masehla retained their men and women's 3 000m steeplechase titles.

As expected, Lebohang Phalula (2:09:54) and Mulaudzi (1: 47.62) emerged winners in the women and men's 800m events.

"There was no way of running a fast time in these weather conditions. When I realised that there was a strong wind, I decided to hold back and just aim for a fast finish to defend my title," Mulaudzi said.