Tuks speedsters shine in Potchefstroom

Updated: March 4, 2017

Rikenette Steenkamp took another step forward in her comeback from injury, winning the women’s 100m hurdles (photo credit: Reg Caldecott)

Powerhouse speedster Thando Roto and teenage prodigy Gift Leotlela were the star performers on Friday night, while hurdler Rikenette Steenkamp continued her impressive comeback from injury, with the Tuks trio all delivering superb results at the first leg of the annual Varsity Athletics series in Potchefstroom.
Roto ripped 0.10 off his 100m personal best, charging across the line to win the fastest of the short sprint heats in 10.18 seconds.
The 21-year-old athlete received the Victor Ludorum trophy for the best men’s performance of the meeting.
“My immediate goal is to go at least sub-10 in good conditions,” Roto said.
“Training is going well, no injuries, and I’m happy with how the season is going.”
Leotlela, the 200m silver medallist at last year’s World U-20 Championships in Bydgoszcz, opened his season in style by securing a convincing victory in the half-lap dash in 20.50.
Though wind readings were unavailable in the official results, the 18-year-old Olympian was just 0.03 outside his career record set in Lusaka last season.
Steenkamp received the Victrix Ludorum for the top performance among the women, overcoming a blunder by officials to win her third race back from a lengthy injury hiatus.
With the sixth and seventh barriers spaced too far apart in the women’s 100m hurdles, the entire field stuttered and lost momentum, and Steenkamp recovered to earn the win in 13.59.
Given the option to re-run the race, with each athlete’s best time of the two contests to be considered for the final results, seven of the eight women in the line-up returned to the blocks less than an hour later.
This time, with the hurdles placed correctly, Steenkamp blitzed through in 13.24, just 0.08 outside the personal best she set at the Continental Cup in Marrakech in September 2014.
Maryke Brits, who went on to win the long jump with a 6.11m leap on a busy evening for the versatile Kovsies athlete, was also significantly faster, taking second place in the high hurdles in 13.65 after clocking 14.16 in the earlier race.
In the biggest surprise of the meeting, Olympic semifinalist Rynardt van Rensburg (Kovsies) was outclassed by NWU-Pukke athlete Henco Uys, who took the men’s 800m race in an unofficial time of 1:49.88.
On the infield, Letitia Janse van Vuuren (NWU-Pukke), who set a national women’s hammer throw record of 61.92m in January, earned top spot on the podium in her specialist event with a 58.22m heave.
In the women’s shot put, Ischke Senekal (Madibaz) produced a 16.67m winning effort, and though she improved her personal best by eight centimetres, she remained in seventh position in the national senior all-time rankings.
Senekal also won the discus throw event with a 54.74m heave, as the only athlete to win two individual disciplines at the series opener.
Adding some international flavour to the meeting, Olympic athlete Ahmed Magour of Qatar earned victory in the men’s javelin throw, hurling the implement 80.00m.
He was well clear of World U-20 Championships silver medallist Johan Grobler (NWU-Pukke) who took second place with a best effort of 75.40m.
European Championships finalist Jenni Kangas of Finland won the women’s javelin throw with a 55.63m attempt, holding off compatriot Heidi Nokelainen who launched the spear 54.39m.
Tuks took the overall lead in the points standings in the A-division, ahead of NWU-Pukke, and UCT settled at the top of the log in the B-division.
The second and final leg of the series will be hosted by the University of Pretoria on March 31.

* Full results and team standings are available in our Results section