DAY OF UPSETS AT SA CHAMPS

 
Updated: April 15, 2016

Henricho Bruintjies and Alyssa Conley produced stunning upsets on Friday night to close out day one of the SA Senior Championships in style at Coetzenburg Stadium in Stellenbosch.
Bruintjies clocked 10.17 seconds to win the national men’s 100m title, 0.04 ahead of training partner and SA record holder Akani Simbine.
“The only thing I wanted was to come here and take the title,” Bruintjies said.
“I haven’t been on the podium for a while, and time was not important. It’s all about the title.”
Conley was equally impressive, securing victory in the women’s 100m dash in 11.36, edging out national record holder Carina Horn by 0.01 in a hard-fought final.
“I’ve always believed in myself and I knew I could do it, so I was very focussed and was ready for the final,” Conley said.
“I haven’t been on track for a few years due to injuries and setbacks, so I’m blessed, happy and honoured to be back.”
Victor Hogan also shone on the opening day, launching a 67.62m heave to win the men’s discus throw.
Having recovered from persistent injuries in recent years, Hogan improved his previous personal best by more than two metres, placing himself among the early contenders for an Olympic medal.
Russel Tucker took second position, also going well over the 60m barrier with a 63.96m heave.
“I’ve been looking for a big throw for the last few years,” Hogan said.
“This year I came to Stellenbosch to work with my coach, Kai Preller, and everything just fell together.”
Former World Championships bronze medallist LJ van Zyl proved he was still a force in the men’s 400m hurdles, drawing clear of former training partner Cornel Fredericks down the home straight to secure victory in 49.34.
It was the 100th time in his career that Van Zyl had dipped under 49.50, as he bagged his eighth national title.
Fredericks, returning home from his base in England, took second place in 49.75.
“It’s my 14th SA Senior Championships and I still love the sport a lot,” Van Zyl said.
“It has been a fantastic day of athletics.”
In the women’s 400m hurdles final, Wenda Nel clocked an impressive 54.84 in her first race of the season over her specialist distance, winning gold more than four seconds ahead of silver medallist Anneri Moolman.
“I really hoped for a sub-55 but I didn’t want to put pressure on myself,” Nel said.
“It’s my first race, so I just wanted to break the ice, but I’m very happy.”
Defending champion Stephen Mokoka won a tactical men’s 5 000m race after closing the gap on early leader Elroy Gelant and winning a sprint finish in 13:40.81.
After starting quickly in the women’s 5 000m final, Irvette van Zyl struggled with a stomach bug, and though she slowed in the second half she set a personal best of 16:02.63 to earn the gold medal.
Former world champion Caster Semenya coasted to victory in the 800m semifinals, crossing the line in 2:00.47.
Semenya will aim for three national titles on Saturday when she lines up in the women’s 400m, 800m and 1 500m events.
In another surprise result on a day of upsets, Commonwealth Games champion Khotso Mokoena was handed a rare defeat on home soil.
Mokoena settled for second place in the men’s triple jump final with a best effort of 16.02m, as 21-year-old Menzi Mthembu delivered a superb performance to win gold with a 16.10m leap.
The second and final day of the championships will be held on Saturday.

* Full results are available in our Results section