Liquid Telecom Athletix Grand Prix Series in full speed

Keegan Sullivan

On 8 March, the TuksAthletics Stadium hosted some of the finest international athletes at the second meeting. Athletes from nine different countries took to the track and field in search of glory with fans licking their lips at the rare chance to see some of the world’s best athletes. Athletic heavyweights Justin Gatlin (USA), Nicholas Bett (Kenya), George Manangoi (Kenya), Isaac Makwala (Botswana) and Joshua Cheptegei (Uganda) aimed to showcase their talents on South African shores. Competing alongside these world superstars were numerous Tuks athletes as well as athletes from various other athletics clubs and universities. Many of the big name athletes competing were hoping to use this event as part of their preparation for the commonwealth games due to take part in Gold Coast, Australia. This was the case with Tuks athlete Wenda Nel as she cruised to victory in the 400m hurdles with a time of 0:55.31. However, it was Zeney Van Der Walt who placed second who had everyone talking. The 17 year-old Afrikaanse Hoër Meisieskool athlete posted an impressive time of 0:56.29 with many feeling they were witnessing the birth of South Africa’s next track superstar.

Perhaps the biggest cheer of the night was reserved for South Africa’s Olympic gold medalist Caster Semenya as the 27-year-old shattered the South African 1000m record with a sublime time of 2:35:44, beating Ilze Wicksell’s record which stood for 35 years by almost two seconds. South Africans will hope this is a precursor of what is to come with Semenya due to compete in the 1500m and 800m events at the Common­wealth Games.

South African 100m record holder and Tuks athlete Akani Simbine breezed to gold in his first race of the season with a time of 10:05. The same can be said about Simbine’s compatriot, Anaso Jobodwana. Jobodwana took part in the evening’s curtain closer which was the 150m men’s event. This included a star-studded field with the most notable name on the roster being Justin Gatlin who remains the eighth fastest man to ever complete the 100m. This did not stop Jobodwana from claiming gold on the night with a time of 15:10.

Other notable track performance on the night included Botswana’s Olympian Isaac Makwala’s, with a recorded time of 31.77. Fellow Olympian Joshua Cheptegei cleaned up the competition in the men’s 3000m. The Ugandan finished at a time of 07:49.48, claiming gold. Kenya’s George Manangoi also claimed gold in the 800m’s with a time of 1:47.20.

The highlights of the field events saw Ruswahl Samaai, a commonwealth games bronze medalist, claim first place in the men’s long jump ahead of a star-studded line-up which included heavyweights such as Godfrey Mokoena with a distance of 8.24 meters. The men’s discus saw Tuks athlete Patrick Duvenhage claim victory with a distance of 53.79 meters. The women’s javelin was claimed by impressive young athlete Jo-Ane van Dyk with a distance of 54.82 meters.

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