Manyonga and Leotlela shine, timing system flops in Bloem

Updated: March 9, 2017

Luvo Manyonga opened his campaign in style (photo credit: Roger Sedres/Image SA)

Long jump star Luvo Manyonga and teenage sprinter Gift Leotlela delivered spectacular performances on Wednesday night, though most results at the ASA Speed Series meeting in Bloemfontein were considered questionable, including a national record by hurdler Ruan de Vries.
Competing in his first event of the season, Manyonga produced a stellar leap of 8.46m, the furthest jump in the world this year, to miss Khotso Mokoena’s SA record by four centimetres.
In the men’s 100m race, Leotlela racked up one of the biggest wins of his career to beat Olympic 400m champion Wayde van Niekerk.
Due to a technical fault with the electronic timing system, hand times were recorded. Leotlela was credited with 10.0, and Van Niekerk clocked 10.10, along with Emile Erasmus in third place.
Leotlela praised Van Niekerk, who set a 400m world record of 43.03 last year, for playing a key role in the rapid rise of SA sprinting.
“When Wayde broke the world record, it just motivated all of us to do better, and we are getting better every year,” Leotlela said.
Van Niekerk, who clocked 9.98 on the same track in March last year, admitted he had some work to do ahead of the World Championships in London in August.
“I really don’t want to make any excuses, but technically I’m very rusty and I need to work on that,” Van Niekerk said.
“But we’ve got some time, and we need to win at the major competitions. That’s what counts.”
De Vries, meanwhile, charged to victory in the men’s 110m hurdles race, setting a national record of 13.23 seconds.
He bettered the previous mark of 13.24 held by Lehann Fourie, and improved his own personal best by 0.36, despite hitting the first hurdle.
“I just wanted to finish the race and go through the motions to get ready for SA champs,” said a stunned De Vries.
“This is a qualifying time for world champs (in London in August), so I have to go there and give my best and see what happens.”
In the women’s 100m hurdles, resurgent speedster Rikenette Steenkamp clipped 0.07 off her career best to secure victory in 13.09.
Athletics South Africa president Aleck Skhosana admitted there was an issue with the results of the men’s 100m event.
“The transponder in the starting device did not react at the start. It’s a new system and we will have to find out from the (private) company what caused it,” Skhosana said.
While some of the performances at the meeting were considered suspect by onlookers, however, Skhosana said there was no reason at this stage to question the other results, and De Vries’ performance would need to be ratified by an official process.
“In the other races, we can’t discredit the athletes until we know whether there was an issue with the times.”

* Full results available in our Results section