It was just about a year ago and some change when Simon Magakwe became the first South African to break the sub-10-second barrier in the 100 metres at the South African Athletics Championships, in April 2014 Pretoria. But the sprinter’s achievement was since marred by 2 year ban from Athletic South Africa after what was deemed a doping violation on Magakwe’s part. According to ASA, Magakwe refused to submit a urine sample for testing in December 2014.
This incident, best described as unfortunate, did not do much to dampen the spirits of other South African who athletes currently compete in the international circuit.
Last Sunday, Sprinter 22 year old Wayde van Niekerk joined the growing list of high-flying South African track and field record holders when he chalked up a new African record over the 300m. At last weekend’s International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Diamond League meeting Van Niekerk clocked a new continental and South African time of 31.63 sec. The 31.74 sec African record in the 300m has been standing for 29 years Gabriel Tiacoh of the Ivory Coast, whereas Morné Nagel set the 32.15 sec South African record in 2006. This would be Wayde Van Niekerk’s second national records, having also smashed the 15-year-old SA 400m record exactly a year ago.
The other South African’s on the list of record breakers is Anaso Jobodwana who lowered the SA 200m time to 20.04 sec – only two weeks after breaking Nagel’s 13-year record of 20,11 sec. This having return from a short absence due to an abdominal operation which saw him opting out of the Commonwealth Games last year. Jobodwana’s accomplishment came after decathlete Willem Coertzen bettered his own national record with personal bests in the 1 500m (4:22.22), shot put (14.14m) and discus throw (44.84m) as he marked an amazing comeback from injury at the IAAF World Combined Events Challenge in Austria.
Half marathon and 5000 m specialist runner Steven Mokoka clocked his second South African record when his winning time of 27:38 sec at the Great Manchester Run took 22 seconds off the 35-year-old 10km record, which had been held by Matthews ‘loop-en-val” Motshwarateu. Mokoka began his season with a new national record of 13:11.44 at the SA Senior Track and Field Championships in Stellenbosch, Western Cape, in the 5 000m final in April, smashing Shadrack Hoff’s 20-year-old national record of 13:14.16.
Race walker Lebogang Shange also broke the SA 20km walk record twice in eight days – his time of 1:21:50 in Switzerland in March was 32 seconds faster than the previous national mark of 1:22:21 set by Chris Britz in 1996, who just happens to be his coach. Shange also holds the 3 000m SA record after his time of 11:20.39 early in March bettered Britz’s 1989 record of 11:27.20.