News31 Jul 2009

African Junior champs, Day 2


South Africa's Caster Semenya after her stunning 1:56.72 in Bambous (© Clyde Koa Wing)

Bambous, MauritiusSouth African Caster Semenya clocked the fastest women’s 800m time in the world this year at the Africa Junior Championships at the Germain Comaramond Stadium in Bambous, Mauritius on Friday (31).

Championship and national records together with a host of personal best tumbled on this second day of at the championships. Africa’s next generation of elite athletes signalled their intention to surpass the continent’s Beijing Olympic medal haul. Athletics accounted for 28 of the 40 medals Africa in Beijing Olympics. Now the juniors could surpass this mark at the 2012 Olympic in London provided they are well nurtured.

Semenya hits the big time

The 18-year-old Semenya is guaranteed special attention at the World Championship in Berlin next month. By clocking a championships record of 1:56.72 to win the women’s 800m. Her previous best is 2:00.58.

At one go she has erased four national age category records. These are Zelda Pretorius’ senior (1:58.85) record, Eranee van Zyl’s Under 23 (1:59.70), Zola Budd’s Junior (2:00.9) and Corne Vijoen’s Under-18 (2:02.71). Semenya is confident the best has beat to come.

“If it was not for the strong wind on the back straight I would have run faster. My coach (Michael Seme) has always told me during training that I can match the Kenyan (World champion) Janeth Jepkosgei and (Olympic champion) Pamela Jelimo. So I will not be afraid when I compete against them in Berlin,” said a confident Semenya.

Such was Semenya’s aggressive front running pedigree that Kenyan runner up Winny Chebet (2:01.36) improved her career best by three seconds. Bronze medallist Abebe Aregawi Gedretsadik (2.02.17) improved Ethiopia’s senior and junior records. 

South Africa’s other record of the day came from decathlete Gert Swanepoel (6.400) who bettered the record Tinus de Bruin (6,355) set at the 2005 Africa Junior Championships in Rades Tunisia. South African World Student Games finalist Cornel Fredericks (50.05) established a 400m hurdles championships record.

Two golds for Algeria, two for Nigeria

Algeria bagged two gold medals through 100m sprinter Abdelhadi Bouchakour (10.75) and Ali Boiuguesba in the Triple Jump. Boiuguesba (16.16m) required a life time and championship record to prevail over Kenyan Newton Kip’Ngeno (15.62m) who also achieved a personal best. Egypt’s Alaa Elaslry (75.59m) set a hammer throw championships record.

Earlier Amaka Ogoegbunam got Nigeria’s gold rush to a start in the first final of the day winning the 100m in 11.78. She was followed by Josephine Omaka (11.78) and Folahsade Abugan (52.02) in the 100m and 400m respectively

Botswana’s Pako Seribe was all smiles after winning the men’s 400m in 46.56. “I promised myself that after the bronze medal in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso two years ago, I would eventually clinch the gold medal this time,” Seribe revealed.

Other gold medallists were South African shot putter Stephan Brink (17.90m), James Magut (3:37.05) in 1500m and Ethiopian Lelisa Desisa Benti (28:46.74) in 10,000m.

Mark Ouma for the IAAF

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