UP wins Varsity Athletics 2017

On 31 March, the final leg of Varsity Athletics 2017 was hosted at UP’s newly renovated Bestmed TuksAthletics Stadium. The evening started off with near perfect conditions and saw some of South Africa’s best university athletes descend on Pretoria to compete for the title of Varsity Athletics Champions. UP entered as favourites to win the A division, as they had previously won the first leg of the tournament hosted in Potchefstroom early this month. UP athletes had to work hard for the win and faced stiff competition from the likes of Letitia Janese van Vuuren, from North-West University (Pukke). She broke her own Varsity Athletics hammer throw record at 62.37 metres, and Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (Madiba) student Garth Ellis broke the Varsity Athletics record when he jumped an incredible 2.12 metres in the men’s high jump.

However, it was UP athletes, Gift Leotlela, Rikennette Steenkamp and Tebogo Mamatu, who were the highlights at the crowded UP stadium.Leotlela ran a stunning 10.12 seconds to not only win the men’s 100m, but also equal his SA Junior record. Steenkamp ran an incredible 13.21 seconds to win the women’s 100m hurdles and she then broke the Varsity Athletics record of 13.24 seconds which she set on 3 March this year. Mamatu also ran an incredible race to win the women’s 100m at 11.48 seconds and broke the previous Varsity Athletics record set by Melissa Hewitt at 11.71 seconds. However, these were not the only UP stars of the night. Other UP athletes such as Ruan Combrink, Constant Pretorius and Patrick Duvenhage also won in their respective fields. UP won the women’s 4x100m relay in which both Mamatu and her training partner, Steenkamp, competed. TuksSport High School athlete, Clarence Munyai, also ran a dizzying 20.25 seconds in the men’s 200m to break the Varsity Athletics record set by UP Olympic sprinter, Akani Simbine. Munyai did not officially run for UP on the night as he is still in high school, but rather ran as a representative of Varsity Sports. As a result, his incredible win did not count to UP’s total points. UP were the winners of the tournament with an impressive 31 310 points, 525 points above Pukke in second place. Danie Cornelius, the director of TuksAthletics, spoke to Perdeby about his team’s incredible win. He said, “It was an amazing experience; we had some amazing athletics here tonight and some great performances”. Cornelius added that he was very proud of his athletes and that it was truly a team effort. Last year UJ narrowly beat UP by a mere 94 points to take first place. Cornelius said it was imperative to bring the cup “back to home soil”. UCT were the winners of the B division, convincingly beating second placed Vaal University of Technology by 1346 points.


Photo: Stefan Stander

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