Paul Gorries RSA award

Gorries and Stewart take top EP awards

On Track, with Annelise Jerling

EASTERN Province Athletics honoured their top athletes and administrators on Friday night.

Paul Gorries, Commonwealth bronze medalist, and Cindy Stewart were named male and female Athletes of the Year. Magda Botha was Coach of the Year, whilst Jan and Irene van Eeden were honoured for their services to road running in the province.

The NMMU athletics club was named Club of the Year. Linda Ferns, general manager of Athletics SA, attended the awards function and congratulated the province on the manner in which it is being run as well as on the positive working relationship amongst the senior executive.

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THE IAAF World Athletics Tour continued in London on Sunday and some excellent performances were recorded. Leading the way was Asafa Powell who equalled his 100 metres world record of 9.77 seconds.

Powell set the world best in Athens last year and Justin Gatlin matched it a month ago. The two sprinters are due to meet on the track next month in London.

Moroccan Mohamed Moustaoui pulled off a surprise win over Olympic silver medalist Bernard Lagat in the 1 500m, improving his personal best to 3:34.40. World 5 000m and 10 000m champion Tirunesh Dibaba led an Ethiopian sweep of the top four places in the 3 000m with her quickest time of the season, 8:42.04. Commonwealth 800m champion Janeth Jepkosgei ran 1:57.22 for a Kenyan record and the fastest time in the world this year. American Christian Cantwell produced a world-leading 22.45m on his final attempt to beat compatriot Reese Hoffa (21.76) in the shot put.

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WITH less than 72 hours to go before the Comrades Marathon, the organisers have released the names of the top contenders. A strong contingent of local and international athletes will battle it out on Friday.

Missing from the women’s field are two top competitors of recent years – three-times winner Maria Bak, who at the age of 47 did not submit an entry this year, and one of the famous Russian twins who have dominated the race for the past three years, Olesya Nurgalieva, who has decided to concentrate on the standard marathon distance.

Elena Nurgalieva, twice winner and up run record holder, must be tipped as the favourite, whilst Farwa Mentoor, the first SA woman in the past four years, must be the local favourite. Other top names include defending champion Tatyana Zhirkova, Yolande MacLean, who will be aiming for her fourth gold, and Russian novice Lyudmila Kalinina.

The men’s section is wide open. Vladimir Kotov won the last three up runs and at 48 is still a danger to men half his age. Andrew Kelehe, the most consistent local performer of recent years, has won gold in the past nine Comrades and will be aiming for a 10th. Fusi Nhlapo, the 2003 winner, is back from injury and is aiming for a second win. Russian Oleg Kharitonov, the world record holder for 100 miles, will be aiming for a sixth Comrades gold. Defending champion Sipho Ngomane, the surprise winner in 2005, has the potential to make a tremendous mark on the race.