Rising stars battle tough conditions

 
Updated: April 8, 2017

The country’s top elite prospects battled strong winds on Friday, as the SA Junior and Youth Championships got under way at Cape Town Stadium.
Shanley Koekemoer got the annual showpiece off to a spectacular start by setting a national best in the youth girls’ 2 000m steeplechase in the second track event of the morning.
In a hard-fought battle against Cara du Preez and Lethabo Makgoga, Koekemoer won the five-lap race in 6:42.68.
Du Preez settled for second place in 6:45.17, with Makgoga edged into third spot in 6:45.89.
Later, in cool conditions in the evening track session, Thembo Monareng charged to victory in the junior men’s 100m final.
In the absence of defending champion Gift Leotlela and 200m star Clarence Munyai, who were both set to focus on the half-lap distance on Saturday, Monareng won the highly anticipated contest in 10.52 seconds.
“It was very windy but it was a great race and I took it as it came. I’m happy with the time in this wind,” Monareng said.
Gauteng North teammate Sokwakhana Zazini also displayed good form, slicing through the conditions to win the youth boys’ 400m race in 47.67.
“It’s bad in this wind because you can’t plan your race properly. You have to adapt to it,” Zazini said.
“My coach (Hennie Kriel) said I shouldn’t worry about the time, I should just go and win the race.”
Zazini, who recently set a world youth 400m hurdles best, was due to turn out again over the barriers on day two.
In other finals on the opening day, Werner Visser launched a massive 57.08m heave to earn gold in the junior men’s discus throw, narrowly defeating Burger Lambrechts Jnr (56.87) and Patrick Duvenhage (56.37) who were both within 80 centimetres of the winner.
Breyton Poole was equally impressive in the youth boys’ high jump, clearing 2.15m for a comfortable victory.
In distance running events, Kabelo Seboko wrapped up an impressive double, winning the junior men’s 5 000m race in 14:28.98 before taking gold in the 3 000m steeplechase in 9:02.72.
The nation’s talented middle-distance specialists were also in fine form, closing out the opening day in style.
Simonay Weitsz led from gun to tape, winning the junior women’s 1 500m title in 4:21.84, and Nicole Louw clocked 4:23.69 to cross the line first in the youth age group.
In the last race of the night, George Kusche also seemed to have no trouble in the tough conditions, storming clear of Ryan Mphahlele in the closing stages of the junior men’s 1 500m.
Kusche won in 3:47.84 and Mphahlele was rewarded for his front-running efforts by taking the silver medal in a personal best 3:49.18.