Lindsey Hanekom sets SA champs alight
Lindsey Hanekom came of age yesterday evening as he won the 400m hurdles in one of several glittering performances that brought the curtain down on the SA championships last night.
Hanekom broke the 49-second barrier for the first time in his promising career to clock the fastest time on SA soil in six years.
His 48.81sec ranks him 11th in the world and it earned him a series of impromptu kisses on the cheek from world long-jump champion Luvo Manyonga, another of the star attractions yesterday.
Manyonga took the SA title with his second effort of the night, an 8.35m that beat Ruswahl Samaai's best effort by 14cm. Zarck Visser was third on 8.01.
Orazio Cremona heaved a massive 21.51m personal best in the shot put to rocket up to fifth on the world rankings.
World under-20 champion Kyle Blignaut, just 19, was second in the event with an impressive 20.03, showing there's more talent on the rise.
Akani Simbine was an easy winner in the 200m in 20.27, though he will shift his focus to his premier 100m event next month.
Chederick van Wyk, who had nine screws put into his ankle after a rugby injury in 2013, was second, with Theodore Young third. Anaso Jobodwana, the world championship 200m bronze medallist in 2015, had to settle for fourth, though he remained adamant that faster times were just around the corner.
There were also some excruciatingly tight tussles, like Prudence Sekgodiso collapsing on the line to down Gena Lofstrand by five-hundredths of a second in the women's 800m and Kabelo Mahlosi edging Rynardt van Rensburg by four-hundredths in the men's race.
Young Zeney van der Walt produced a storming finish to narrowly beat veteran Wenda Nel in the women's 400m hurdles.
But it was her male counterpart who raised eyebrows as well as some tears from his ecstatic coach, Nico van Heerden.
"I'm just happy I could come out here and execute," said Hanekom, 25. "Last year wasn't a good year for me," he added.
He still went to the World Cup in London where he ran poorly.
"I ran 54 and that motivated me even though my friends made fun of me - they called me Lindsey Nel, because Wenda Nel runs that time."
It got to the point that he considered switching disciplines.
"Me and my coach decided last year if I'm not going to do good this year, I might shift to the 800m and try to prepare for the Olympics [next year] in the 800m, but then again God's timing, everything went well and I ran a personal best."
But attendance was poor, with the Germiston stadium main stand only half full.