Sprinters dazzle, cloud over Freitag
Posted on 18 March 2005 - 23:18
Amidst a string of dazzling track performances from Mbulaeni Mulaudzi, Geraldine Pillay, Alwyn Myburgh and Leigh Julius, a cloud of concern hung over Jacques Freitag who struggled with a sore back and managed a 2,25m winning clearance at the final Absa Series meeting at Pilditch in Pretoria on Friday night.
First the dazzle. Mulaudzi, the silver medal winner at the Athens Olympics, was mercurial so early in the season with his 1:44,65 800m win that rates as an Absa Series record. Werner Botha was second in 1:45,62.
“I planned to go for a fast time at this stage. It gives me a confidence boost. Now I’ve got the time to go for the world champs, it means I can just focus on winning at the nationals (in Durban in April).”
Zimbabwean Talkmore Nyongani blazed to a superb 44,96sec 400m victory, but the athlete who eclipsed his effort was the one who trailed the field in the form of Pretoria High matric learner Oscar Pistorius who ran a world record 47,37sec for double leg amputees.
Pillay equalled her personal best 100m then celebrated her entry into the IAAF world athletics championships in the 200m for the first time this season with 22,80sec against the 23,17sec by Janice Josephs.
Pillay won the 100m in an 11,20sec world championship qualifier, a touch of class ahead of pentathlete Josephs who held off Wendy Seegers for second in 11,36. Seegers ran 11,60.
“I’m planning to go quicker at the nationals, but I’m making no predictions,” said Pillay. “I so wanted to make the world champs qualifiers in both events and I’m thrilled that I made it. I feel I can definitely go faster.”
Myburgh kept his nose ahead in the 400 hurdles once again with 49,01sec ahead of SA record-holder Llewellyn Herbert (49,36). “I’m happy with my consistency,” he said.
Leigh Julius edged a tight 100m race in 10,34sec to beat Jean du Randt and Sherwin Vries who deadheated for second at 10,39. He followed up with a 20,48sec victory in the 200 against the 20,60 set by Morne Nagel and 20,85 by Vries.
“Competition is very tough out there,” he said. “It’s pushing us to faster times. It’s the guy who’s in better shape mentally at nationals who will win the title. There’s lots of pressure because I’m the defending champion in the 100 and 200.”
But for Freitag, who is working up to defending his world title in Helsinki in August, it was a return to treatment after his 2,25m came from his second jump. It was his only clearance of the night and there was clearly a problem considering his 2,38m Africa record at the Oudtshoorn meeting a fortnight ago.
“I was worried about the back problem earlier in the week,” said Freitag. “I was being treated and thought it would come right by Friday.”
Surita Febbraio was a touch disappointed after her solo race up front for her 56,10sec win in the 400 hurdles. “I lost my rhythm over the last two hurdles,” she said. “Having no competition makes it tough. I went out too slow at Stellenbosch, now tonight I went out too fast and struggled over the last two hurdles.”
Mari-Louise Romijn retained her unbeaten record in the women’s 800m for the Absa series with a solid 2:04,68 win against Marle Breytenbach (2:05,40).
“I was happy with that,” she said. "I’ve been sick for two weeks and I didn’t feel that great. But it’s fantastic to have won all the 800s in the series. I’d love to go under 2min at nationals.
Hennie Kotze won the 110m hurdles in 14,01sec, dipping ahead of Ruan de Vries (14,08), in the absence of Shaun Bownes who got inured in Stellenbosch.
Khotso Mokoena set an Absa meet record 16,89m with triple jump victory, while Heide Seyerling won the 400 for women in 51,79.